Rishi Sunak has said he would bring back grammar schools if he becomes prime minister.
During the Tory leadership hustings in Leeds on Thursday, the former chancellor was asked if he would support the move, he said: “Yes.”
He added: “I believe in educational excellence, I believe education is the most powerful way we can transform people’s lives. But I also think there’s lots we can do with the school system as we have it.
“Now what Michael Gove did several years ago was transformative. And Michael took on some vested interests, challenged consensus, brought in some reforms that mean that millions of our children now are better off.
“But that’s a Conservative way to do it. It’s not about throwing more money at the problem, it’s about reforming the system to get better outcomes. And that’s what I would do with education as well.”
The government began phasing out grammar schools in 1965 and replaced them with a comprehensive system, after politicians raised concerns that the selective system reinforced class division and middle-class privilege.
In 1998, the establishment of new all-selective schools was banned by the School Standards and Framework Act in 1998.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunak’s leadership rival Liz Truss received rapturous applause after saying “single sex spaces should be protected” in schools.
Her comment was in response to a woman who decried what she claimed were moves to bring mixed toilets to schools.
Ms Truss told the hustings: “I’ve been very clear that single-sex spaces should be protected, particularly for young people as well as vulnerable people – vulnerable women in domestic violence shelters, for example – and I can assure you, as prime minister, I would direct that to happen.
“It’s a difficult time being a teenager – being a young girl – and you should be able to have the privacy you need in your own loo.”