'This isn't a TV reality contest': Frustrated minister calls out Tories for using leadership contest to 'woo membership'
PUBLISHED: 12:01 19 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 19 May 2019
A minister has expressed his frustration with the Conservative leadership contest and with colleagues who he believes are changing their views in order to "raise their profile".
The Conservative Party is preparing for its second leadership election in three years after Theresa May promised MPs she would be stepping down as prime minister.
Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Tobias Ellwood ruled himself out as a candidate in the Conservative leadership contest and urged "loyalty" and "discipline" from his colleagues to get Brexit across the line.
He said: "I don't have the rank and I don't have the experience. I'm not going to run. And this isn't a TV reality contest."
He used a glass of water to symbolise Brexit and acted out how other issues, such as the economy, disappear when it is on the table before adding: "What we're doing to Britain, our reputation, is actually being affected by Brexit."
Mr Ellwood went on: "Let's have some loyalty, let's have some commitment, let's have some discipline in focusing on the one thing that we need to get across the line, which is Brexit.
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"I do urge my colleagues to think why are they putting their name forward? Is it to raise their own profile - and some colleagues as well are changing their views in order to woo our membership to raise their profile as well.
"This is getting things in the wrong order. Our focus must be to get Brexit across the line."
The defence minister also told Sophy that a no deal Brexit would be "damaging" and advised members of the public to look at the details of what a no deal Brexit would involve.
Ellwood compared it a divorce where, "you could run out of the building and say I want to leave my other half, but actually there's more to it than that.
"Where's the money going to go, who's going to get the house? You've got a responsibility - an ongoing relationship - to discuss.
"And that's exactly what we have the European Union as well."
He added that as the fifth largest economy, a no deal Brexit would be damaging to Britain's economy, security and reputation on the international stage."