A day after coming in sixth place from the first secret ballot on Thursday, Matt Hancock has pulled out of the leadership race to become prime minister.
The health secretary thus far has not endorsed any of the other contenders and told the BBC he is “talking” to all of them.
Hancock told BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar, “I’ve been incredibly encouraged and humbled by the amount of support that I’ve had in this campaign.
“I’ve tried to make the argument about the values that the Conservative Party needs to hold dear, of free enterprise and support for a free society and being open and optimistic and enthusiastic about the future.”
Adding, “But the party clearly is looking for a candidate to deal with the here and now. I very much put myself forward as the candidate focused on the future.
“And so, I’ve decided to withdraw from the race and instead see how best I can advance those values within the party and the big and difficult tasks we’ve got ahead.”
He further said all the leadership hopefuls have “admirable qualities” and they should all take part in televised debates.
Hancock said, “The nature of this contest isn’t just to be the leader of the Conservative Party. It’s to be the next prime minister, and so that scrutiny is important.
“We stand at a defining moment in our country’s history and we need to deliver Brexit and then we need to cast forward and bring the country together. That’s the goal.”