Brexit Minister James Cleverly has withdrawn from the Conservative Party’s leadership race, almost a week after declaring his intention to stand.
The Tory MP said it had “become clear” that was “highly unlikely” he would progress to the final two candidates that will appear on the ballot paper.
“Unfortunately and with a heavy heart I’ve decided to withdraw from the race,” he told the BBC.
This leaves 12 Tory MPs competing for the top job.
The executive of the party’s backbench 1922 Committee will meet later to decide the rules and timings for the leadership election.
Theresa May stands down as leader of the Conservative Party on Friday – she will remain PM until a successor is named at the end of July.
In a statement, Mr Cleverly said he had wanted to deliver Brexit and then move the conversation on to other important issues.
“I had hoped that the Conservative parliamentary party would support me to be the face and voice of that conversation,” he said.
“To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP.
“It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party’s grassroots, MPs weren’t comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to the final two candidates.”
Who will replace Theresa May?
The winner of the contest to lead the Conservative Party will become the next prime minister.