Boost for Boris Johnson as former Tory leadership rival Andrea Leadsom backs his campaign
Boris Johnson has been handed another boost in the Tory leadership race after former contender Andrea Leadsom confirmed she was backing him.
The ex-Commons Leader said the frontrunner in the race for Number 10 was an "election winner" who she shared views with on Brexit, high-speed rail and business.
Ms Leadsom was knocked out of the battle last week after she received the fewest votes of all candidates from Conservative MPs in the first round of voting.
Speaking on LBC, she said: "I'm going to be backing Boris Johnson for the next Prime Minister.
"Essentially, there's two key reasons. One is I think he is the best placed to get us out of the EU at the end of October. His view and mine are closely aligned there.
"Secondly, I do believe he is an election winner. He is someone who can bring the country and the party back together and take us forward in a positive way.
"And the third thing which is more nuanced really is that he and I share a scepticism about the HS2 project on the grounds of value for money.
"But he, at the same time, has a big commitment to improving infrastructure in the country to a pro-business agenda that will really get our economy to be motoring, which is essential in a post-Brexit world."
Tory MPs are due to hold their second leadership ballot later on Tuesday, with candidates needing to win at least 33 votes and to not come last if they are to stay in the race.
Mr Johnson topped the pile by a distance in last week’s vote, with 114 MPs throwing their backing behind him.
Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart join the ex-foreign secretary in the battle to secure a spot in the final two, before Tory members make the ultimate decision.
Ms Leadsom’s endorsement of Mr Johnson follows those of former leadership runners Esther McVey, who was also knocked out last week, and Matt Hancock, who pulled out of the race.
Theresa May's aide, Andrew Bowie, also confirmed he was backing the frontrunner this morning following Mr Hancock's decision to withdraw.
Elsewhere fellow contender Rory Stewart admitted he had no problem being branded the “stop Boris candidate”.
"I have no problem with that and I would love to go against him in the final two in order to give members the chance to choose whether they want Boris's Brexit or mine," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The International Development Secretary, who has ruled out serving in a Cabinet led by the former London mayor, has been consistently critical of his promise to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.