A NATIONAL newspaper has reported that the MP for North West Hampshire Kit Malthouse is “discreetly" setting up a campaign team to challenge for the nation’s top job.

In an article on Thursday last week, The Sun reported that housing minister Mr Malthouse has launched a leadership bid after being urged to take on “failing” Cabinet minsters by his friends in the Conservative party.

One Tory MP backing 52-year-old Mr Malthouse, a former deputy mayor of London, told The Sun: “Most colleagues are lukewarm at best about all the early contenders because they are all damaged in one way or another.

“They’re failing to build reliable leads.

“It’s time for the new generation, with new ideas and purpose, who can unite everyone. Kit is able to do that.”

Mr Malthouse will this week launch a series of Tory-wide discussion groups on Brexit issues in a bid to bring the feuding Parliamentary party back together, which comes after he authored a compromise to the Brexit plan.

And when asked for a comment on leadership challenge rumours by the Advertiser, Mr Malthouse neither confirmed or denied the bid, instead he said: "My focus at the moment is trying to get Brexit completed. I have started a new work stream with my colleagues in Parliament to look at the moving parts to see if we can reach consensus as we did earlier in the year with the Malthouse Compromise”

It understood by the national paper that there are 17 Conservative MPs making “serious runs” for the party’s leadership including Boris Johnson, Amber Rubb and Sajid Javid.