THE race to be the next Prime Minister is hotting up this week as Tory MPs get behind their preferred candidates.

A number of Conservative members of parliament have put their names forward for the position, which was made available after Theresa May formally resigned on Friday, June 7.

Many Tories across the country have declared their support for nominees based on their position on the country’s biggest issue – Brexit.

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In Berkshire that is no different – arch remainer Dr Phillip Lee, MP for Bracknell, has given his backing to Sam Gyimah, who quit as universities minister in November 2018 in protest of Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

Fellow remain supporter Gyimah backs a new referendum on Brexit, in which he would ask voters whether they want to leave with no deal, leave with Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, or to revoke article 50.

Tweeting his support, Dr Lee wrote: “Along with Guto Bebb and Dominic Grieve I’m supporting Sam Gyimah to be the next PM.

“He has a deliverable plan to get beyond Brexit and policies which will deliver for all of Britain.

“He is a decent, honourable and impressive man. I’m very proud to support his candidacy.”

Mr Gyimah could drop out of the race as soon as this evening (June 10) however, if he doesn’t secure the backing of at least eight MPs along with his nomination.

Candidates need to meet this threshold in order to get through to the next round of the leadership contest.

This could also be the case for Brexiteer Esther McVey, who currently has the support of six MPs.

She might be able to add Wokingham MP John Redwood to her tally, however, after he praised her in a recent blog post.

He wrote: “Esther McVey has come up with the clearest and strongest position on the EU. She has stated we must leave by October 31 with no further delays. She is a good presenter of Conservative views, using language that cuts through well and standing up to the abuse and attacks that come with the job.”

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Despite his positive review, the Leave-voting MP pointed out Esther McVey’s vote for Theresa May’s deal, something which seemingly disqualifies Michael Gove from gaining Mr Redwood’s support.

His blog continued: “Mr Gove should not be supported for his long and futile support of the Withdrawal Treaty, his willingness to delay exit longer and his ill-thought-through views on VAT and sales taxes.”

Boris Johnson also received a mention in Mr Redwood’s blog, claiming his position is in line with the 2017 Conservative manifesto.

Adam Afriyie, Windsor MP and Brexit supporter, has not yet declared who he is backing.

Newbury MP Richard Benyon had lent his support to Kit Malthouse, but the latter dropped out of the race last week.

The new Prime Minister is expected to be announced on Monday, July 22 after several rounds of voting sees the candidates whittled down to a final two.

The victor will be decided after the 120,000-strong Conservative Party membership votes on the matter.