JEREMY Hunt is now seen as the frontrunner to replace Theresa May, having significantly stepped up his leadership bid with secret breakfasts for Cabinet ministers.
The Sun has learned that the Foreign Secretary is billing himself as the unity candidate as he tries to woo MPs, making different pitches to Leavers and Remainers.
As speculation spirals among Tory MPs that the Brexit crisis could force the PM to resign within weeks, Mr Hunt is even said to have started to ask senior ministers what jobs they want in his Cabinet in exchange for their backing.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid is also trying to turbo-charge his long-running tilt at No10 by hosting rival breakfasts in Westminster restaurants.
But the 52 year-old Foreign Office chief is now seen by most Conservative MPs as having the best chance of stealing the crown because of Mr Javid’s troubles over knife crime and illegal migrants in the Channel.
One senior Tory figure who Mr Hunt has tried to woo dubbed his pitch “clever” as it alters “depending on who he is talking to”.
The Cabinet source added: “He tells Remainers he wants to achieve compromise.
“But when he courts the Brexiteers, he gives them a very clear narrative that he is only person who can deliver Brexit because of his reach across the party.”
The Government figure added: “He and Sajid are really going for it, so they obviously think it’s getting close”.
Another senior minister added: “The feeling among colleagues is we need a Brexiteer next, but Jeremy has had a bit of a useful conversion to the cause so he’ll probably carry the broadest support”.
Mr Hunt is also attempting to charm Eurosceptic hardliners, holding quiet meetings with senior members of their European Research Group.
The Cabinet veteran will face a determined challenge from the Leave wing of the party, lead by ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab as well his predecessor and former mentor David Davis.
Ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also been working hard to try to drum up support, spending long hours with ordinary Tory MPs in the Commons tea room – having previously avoided them.
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But one former Boris ally said that Boris is “struggling”.
A massive ‘Anyone But Boris’ operation is being mounted by moderate Tories to try to keep him off the last two candidates to be offered out to the party’s 120,000 members.
A source close to Mr Hunt said: “This isn’t anything new. Jeremy has been having breakfasts with his colleagues since he first become an MP.
“He’s focused 100% on the day job.”
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