James Cleverly drops out of Conservative leadership race

Brexit minister James Cleverly has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race.

In a message on his website, the Braintree MP said: "Last week I announced that I intended to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party and as Prime Minister.

"I felt that we needed to deliver Brexit and then quickly move the conversation on to other important issues that face the country. I had hoped that the Conservative parliamentary party would support me to be the face and voice of that conversation.

James Cleverly made the announcement on his website. Credit: James Cleverly

"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 be one of the final two candidates.

"For this reason I have withdrawn from the process of selecting a new leader and will not be submitting nomination papers."

The minister was among a handful of other Conservative MPs vying for the leadership of their party.

The crowded field of candidates includes well-known Cabinet members including Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove as well as former minister Boris Johnson.