Health secretary Matt Hancock has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race as candidates seek a way to defeat front-runner Boris Johnson.
Hancock, who secured 20 votes in the first ballot of the contest, said the party is looking for a candidate for the “unique circumstances that exist now”.
He tweeted: “Thank you for all your support. I have decided to withdraw from the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. I will now look for the best way to advance the values we fought for.”
In a statement, he said: “I’m hugely grateful for the warm and enthusiastic support I’ve received throughout this campaign, and am proud of the way we managed to set the agenda by promoting new ideas to make people’s lives better.
“I ran as the candidate of the future, but the Party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now.
“I have therefore decided to withdraw from this contest, and I will look for the best way to advance the values we fought for, of free enterprise, and an open, aspirational, free society, underpinned by an optimistic belief in the value of each individual person.
“I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward.”
Sajid Javid – who secured 23 votes in the ballot – is thought to be seeking Hancock’s backing.