Scotland politics

Conservative leadership race: Scottish Secretary Mundell to back May

David Mundell Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption David Mundell is the Scottish Secretary of State in the Conservative cabinet

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said he will be backing Theresa May in the Conservative Party leadership race.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Scotland's only Tory MP said the home secretary was his preferred choice.

Nominations for the contest closed at midday.

The Conservatives have begun the process of replacing David Cameron, who is standing down as party leader and prime minister.

He is going following last week's referendum in which UK voters decided by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union.

Ms May announced her intention to stand on Thursday morning.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb and former defence secretary Liam Fox will also stand but Boris Johnson, who led the Leave campaign, has said he will not be putting his name forward.

Mr Mundell said: "I am backing Theresa May. I think in these very difficult and uncertain times we need a serious and competent politician as our leader."

Mr Mundell explained that he did not think Mr Johnson was the right person to be Tory leader and the UK's prime minister.

He said: "Mr Johnson is a very colourful, flamboyant and indeed charismatic figure, but I don't think that he does have that experience on the world stage.

"Playing ping pong at the Olympics is quite different from negotiating Britain's exit from the EU."

A view from Westminster on the Tory leadership race

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Michael Gove has thrown his hat into the ring for leadership of the Tory Party

By David Porter, BBC Scotland Westminster correspondent

What we have seen today is a very public political assassination.

What Michael Gove was saying was that he did not believe that Boris Johnson was up to the job of being Prime Minister and - in coded language - that he did not particularly trust him either.

As soon as that announcement came out most people at Westminster were genuinely shocked. At this point lot of Johnson supporters started moving over to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who was born in Edinburgh and raised in Aberdeen, says that being Prime Minister is not his preferred option, but circumstances dictate that he must throw his hat into the ring.

The suggested timetable is for a leader to be in place by 9 September. However, this will have to be approved by the Conservative Party's board and the 1922 committee as a whole.

If that is agreed, the party should have a new leader in time for its autumn conference, which starts on 2 October.

In his radio interview, Mr Mundell also said that he was committed to working with the Scottish government to get the best deal post Brexit.

He added: "We're going to have a long and tight relationship in terms of making sure that the Scottish government are right at the heart of UK discussions with Brussels."

"I very much want to see Scotland within the single market, that's really what is important for Scotland."

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