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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2005, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Tory leadership race 'phoney war'
Liam Fox
Liam Fox wants more time spent getting the party's policies across
The Tory leadership contest has been branded "the longest phoney war in history" by one of the candidates for Michael Howard's job when he quits.

Dr Liam Fox urged the party to concentrate on attacking the government instead of indulging in "endless speculation" about its future.

The shadow foreign secretary said it was vital Conservatives spelled out their vision for the country.

His comments came as Tim Yeo pulled out of the race and backed Kenneth Clarke.

'Clear agenda'

Dr Fox, speaking on the BBC News 24 on Sunday programme, said: "This is the longest phoney war in history.

The Conservative Party's biggest problem is that is seems to want to talk about the Conservative Party far too much
Liam Fox,
Shadow foreign secretary

"It's still my intention to be part of that leadership contest whenever it comes, but we have got such a long wait for it that the opposition should be concentrating on opposing the government rather than involving themselves in endless speculation.

"What the country requires is a clear political agenda.

"If we simply adopt the sort of approach we had in recent years and say what is it that voters want to hear and then tell them it, that's not the sort of politics most of us want.

"The Conservative Party's biggest problem is it seems to want to talk about the Conservative Party far too much."

'Soap opera'

Dr Fox said politics had become a "glorified, second rate soap opera" with personalities and image more important than policies.

He said: "Politicians need to stop talking about themselves, their alliances, their friends and their party and start talking about what's good for the country."

Mr Yeo, announcing his decision to step aside, said: "The most important consideration for the party is who can lead us to victory.

"In my view unquestionably the most likely person to defeat Labour and to see off the threat from the Liberal Democrats is Ken Clarke."

The leadership contest, which has not officially begun, started after the general election when Mr Howard announced he was standing down after Labour's third victory.

He will quit by the end of the year.

Other candidates include David Davis, David Cameron, David Willetts, Theresa May, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Andrew Lansley.

Hear why Tim Yeo has pulled out in favour of Ken Clarke


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