Published: 10:07, 26 May 2019
| Updated: 10:10, 26 May 2019
Ashford MP Damian Green says he is planning to support the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in his bid to become the next leader of the Conservative party.
He is the first MP in Kent to declare his backing for Mr Hancock, who is seen as a moderniser.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Green said the Health Secretary was the right person to take the party forward.
“For every MP this is a vital decision. I know I’m not just choosing a party leader, I’m choosing the leader of our country: someone who may have to send troops into battle and represent Britain on the world stage. Someone who must find a way through Brexit and knit our nation back together. Only the health secretary Matt Hancock has the nous to heal our country’s wounds.”
It is thought that the Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch is among other MPs who will declare for Mr Hancock.
Meanwhile, Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately says that as the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party she does not intend to publicly endorse or support any candidate in the race to succeed Theresa May.
As things stand the county’s MPs are broadly divided over who should become the party leader.
Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary, has won the support of Dartford MP Gareth Johnson and the Maidstone MP Helen Grant.
The Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he would be taking soundings from local activists before deciding who to back in the contest but said a leadership contest was the last thing the party needed.
He said that whoever was leader the party needed to unite behind them. Speaking on the latest edition of “Paul on Politics” show on KMTV, he said: “Both leavers and remainers have got to come together not for the good of the Conservative Party but for the good of the country.”
He said that his decision on who should become next leader would depend on what local party members told him.
“I will wait for them to tell me on the basis of who has the majority of support.”
The Conservatives are set for another bruising election when the results of the election of MEPs to the European Parliament are declared later tonight.
It is widely expected that Nigel Farage new Brexit Party is on course for a decisive victory.
Follow our live blog on the European parliament election results tonight from 10pm with analysis and reaction from Southampton where the count for the south east region is taking place.
Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.