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The BBC's Mark Mardell
"If Ken Clarke backs him the momentum could be unstoppable"
 real 56k

Former Conservative minister, Peter Lilley
"It is important to establish the sort of leadership and the sort of direction we want of the party"
 real 28k

The BBC's John Pienaar
looks at the potential candidates to lead the Conservative Party
 real 56k

Iain Duncan Smith, Shadow Defence Secretary
"People need to listen a bit more and lecture a little less"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 20:31 GMT 21:31 UK
Clarke urged to run
Ken Clarke
Mr Clarke has been urged to run for the leadership
Ken Clarke has been urged to throw his hat into the ring for the forthcoming contest to lead the Conservative Party.

Ken is in a situation now where he needs to hear from other parliamentary colleagues

Ian Taylor
The call came from former DTI minister Ian Taylor.

"I think there's only one person who really can make the significant change both in [the] character and atmosphere of the party, as well as re-engaging the British people, and that's Kenneth Clarke," Mr Taylor told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"He's available for conversations but obviously Ken is in a situation now where he needs to hear from other parliamentary colleagues as to what they want him to do and reflect closely on what those various options are."

Michael Portillo
Mr Portillo is expected to announce he will run
Mr Taylor's comments will fuel speculation at Westminster that the former chancellor and Michael Portillo failed to hammer out a deal over the leadership.

Speculation was rife that the eurosceptic Mr Portillo would run for the Tory leadership with Mr Clarke's blessing.

In return Mr Clarke would reportedly have got a seat in the shadow cabinet and the right to campaign for the single currency in the event of a referendum on the euro.

In any case Mr Portillo is expected to announce within the next 48 hours his intention to stand for the Conservative leadership.

Asked about his plans as he left his London home on Tuesday morning, Mr Portillo said: "No words today. You'll hear in the next couple of days."

Francis Maude
Maude refused to be drawn
Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude would not be drawn on whether he would be standing for the Tory leadership.

None of the other potential candidates has so far put their names forward, although Ann Widdecombe and Iain Duncan Smith have said they are considering standing.

The leadership election can begin officially only when parliament returns on Wednesday and Conservative MPs elect the new chairman of the party's 1922 committee which will oversee the contest.

'Think things through'

On Monday Mr Clarke said: "I don't intend to make my mind up about exactly what I'm going to do for a week or two and I hope that other candidates in this situation will take the same view.

Earlier, a similar appeal was issued by shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

He said: "I think it shows a degree of unseemly haste if people now suddenly say they know all the solutions to our problems and are able to wave a magic wand."

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith: Reportedly backed by Lady Thatcher

Mr Duncan Smith is thought likely to attract the support of former prime minister Lady Thatcher.

He has already been backed by former party chairman Lord Tebbit, who warned against the Conservatives selecting a leader who was pro-euro - like Mr Clarke.

Opinion poll

The peer described Mr Duncan Smith, successor to his Commons seat, as a "normal, family man with children".

That could be an early warning sign of the campaign ahead for Mr Portillo, who has spoken of having homosexual experiences as a young man.

However, a Portillo campaign has been boosted by a Gallup poll in the Daily Telegraph, suggesting he is favourite to succeed Mr Hague among Tory voters, with 34% supporting him compared to 21% for Mr Clarke.

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