LONDON • The race to become Britain's next premier heated up yesterday, as Environment Secretary Michael Gove joined a crowded field of seven other hopefuls with competing visions of how to finally pull their divided country out of the European Union.
Mr Gove's bid for the leadership in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum scuppered the chances of his one-time ally Boris Johnson, who is also running this time and is seen as the current favourite.
Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation announcement last Friday drastically raised the chances of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal on Oct 31 - the current deadline set by EU leaders.
"I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country," Sky News quoted Mr Gove as telling reporters outside his house.
"I believe that I'm ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit and ready to lead this great country," he added.
Some of the contenders to replace Mrs May have said they will seek to negotiate changes to a draft divorce deal struck with the EU last year, but will be prepared to proceed with a no-deal Brexit if refused.
The EU has said it is not prepared to renegotiate the terms of the deal.
BID FOR TOP JOB
I can confirm that I will be putting my name forward to be prime minister of this country. I believe that I'm ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit and ready to lead this great country.
ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY MICHAEL GOVE, on his decision to run for premier.
A no-deal Brexit would face fierce opposition in Parliament, including from MPs in the ruling Conservative Party who backed staying in the EU.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond yesterday warned that he might even be prepared to take the drastic step of voting to bring down a future Conservative government in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Johnson, the former foreign minister, said last Friday in Switzerland: "We will leave the EU on Oct 31, deal or no deal."
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab - an even more committed Eurosceptic - has echoed that position.
Mr Raab and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced their candidacies in the Sunday papers.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS