JEREMY Hunt has all but confirmed his intention to stand in the race to succeed Theresa May.

The Herald has been told Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, is preparing his own bid with suggestions he already has the backing of some 50 colleagues in the Commons.

Speculation is rising that it could be just a matter of weeks before the Prime Minister is forced out either after a poor Tory result in next month’s local elections in England or if she fails to progress the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through Parliament.

The Foreign Secretary, tipped by some as the favourite to succeed Mrs May, was asked at a journalists’ lunch in Westminster if he would throw his hat in the ring and did not deny that he would, saying only: "Wait and see."

Mr Hunt, a Remainer who has embraced Brexit, suggested the next PM did not have to be a Brexiteer but someone, like himself, who “believes in Brexit”.

Meanwhile, UK Prisons Minister Rory Stewart, who served as a provincial governor in post-war Iraq, said he thought he would make a good prime minister because of his specialist knowledge of how to rebuild a country.

The 46-year-old MP for Penrith and the Border was raised in Scotland, served in the Black Watch, and whose family live in the listed Broich House near Crieff in Perthshire.

He said: “If there were one[a contest] this year, I'd probably throw my hat in the ring. It's a lot of unknowns in politics but yes.”

Mr Stewart added: “I have something to contribute and I particularly believe it's important to have somebody who's prepared to stand up for the centre ground of British politics; in other words stand up, not for a hard Brexit or a hard Remain, but, at a time when politics is getting more and more polarised and people going to extremes, to have somebody saying; ‘I love Britain, I believe in Britain, and I don't believe Britain should be split into two camps.’”