Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has put herself forward as a candidate to become the new prime minister, promising “limited government” and “a focus on the essentials”.
The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”.
Writing in The Times, she also hit out at “identity politics” and said Boris Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them”.
“People are exhausted by platitudes and empty rhetoric. Loving our country, our people or our party is not enough,” she said.
“What’s missing is an intellectual grasp of what is required to run the country in an era of increased polarisation, protectionism and populism amplified by social media.”
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She said governing Britain today requires “a nimble centre-right vision” that “can achieve things despite entrenched opposition from a cultural establishment that will not accept that the world has moved on from Blairism.”
Ms Badenoch’s declaration capped off a day that saw many Tories declaring allegiances in the leadership race.
Rishi Sunak declared his much anticipated intention to run, enjoying public backing from Commons Leader Mark Spencer, former Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden, former chief whip Mark Harper, ex-ministers Liam Fox and Andrew Murrison, and MPs Sir Bob Neill and Paul Maynard.
Former minister Steve Baker backed Attorney General Suella Braverman’s campaign – withdrawing an earlier suggestion he would contend for the job.
Tory MPs Chloe Smith and Julian Knight both expressed their support for Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Friday, although she is yet to launch a bid.
Backbencher John Baron said he will be “taking soundings” over the weekend and Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, has already said he will be be putting his name forward.
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, said he was backing Ms Badenoch.
“Kemi’s clarity of analysis about the problems our country faces and her willingness to take tough decisions are exactly why colleagues should back her,” he said.
More campaign launches are expected in the coming days.