The former Brexit Secretary, who quit his role in November over Mrs May’s handling of the UK’s exit from the European Union, challenged his rivals to take part in a televised debate. The debate was welcomed by two of Mr Raab’s rivals for the Conservative Party leader – Andrea Leadsom and Jeremy Hunt. Boris Johnson, the bookies’ favourite to be the next Prime Minister with odds of 6/4 odds, is yet to respond.
Mr Raab joined the leadership race two days ago on Saturday, with Sajid Javid following suit immediately afterwards.
Michael Gove and Esther McVey are also contending.
The former Brexit Secretary said of the TV debate challenge: “I hope that the other candidates take me up on my suggestion of holding a televised debate so that we can test each other’s plans on Brexit.”
But the challenge however caused concerns from within the Conservatives it would expose gaping divisions across the party.
One aide to a leadership challenger said a TV debate would be a bad idea.
The unnamed source told the Guardian: “We have to decide if we are going to expose ourselves to an all-out bunfight on the EU. It could turn out to be a race to the bottom.”
The news comes as the Conservatives were humiliated in last night’s European elections results.
Mr Johnson warned the party would face a “permanent haemorrhage” if it did not deliver Brexit “properly”.
He wrote in his Daily Telegraph column: “The message from these results is clear. If we go on like this, we will be fired: dismissed from the job of running the country.
“The only way to avert that outcome is to honour the result of the 2016 referendum, and come out of the EU; and that means doing it properly – not with some frail simulacrum of Brexit, but clearly and sensibly, so that we are able to join every other independent country in being able to set our own tariffs and make our own laws.”
Mrs May tweeted of the four seat win: “A very disappointing night for @Conservatives. Some excellent MEPs have lost their seats, some excellent candidates missed out. But Labour have also suffered big losses.
“It shows the importance of finding a Brexit deal, and I sincerely hope these results focus minds in Parliament.”
Ms McVey said the UK should leave the EU in five months’ time with a “clean break”, while Ms Leadsom described the result as “truly terrible”.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party dominated the polls, winning 28 seats in the European Parliament.