The chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), a Tory centrist who has never served in Government, said he would offer the party a “fresh start”. Mr Tugendhat was openly critical of the man he hoped to replace in the months before Mr Johnson resigned.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the former soldier said: “I am putting together a broad coalition of colleagues that will bring new energy and ideas to Government and, finally, to bridge the Brexit divide that has dominated our recent history.
“I have served before – in the military, and now in parliament.
“Now I hope to answer the call once again as Prime Minister. It’s time for a clean start. It’s time for renewal.”
At least four Tory MPs had endorsed Mr Tugendhat before he went public with his bid. Damian Green, a former minister, said: “I’m supporting Tom Tugendhat.
“We need a clean start, a fresh start, we need to get on with resetting the Conservative Party and resetting Government more widely in this country so that it gets back to being properly run, observing the conventions, supporting the institutions that we have in this country.”
Mr Tugendhat said he would “go for it” if the opportunity arose and questioned the reticence of colleagues to admit their ambitions.
He wrote: “I don’t think you should be embarrassed to want to serve your country, I was very proud to serve my country.
“Of course I want to have an influence that helps to shape the country for the best.”
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Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss were all thought to be considering bids, with Ms Mordaunt the bookies’ favourite among them.
The PA news agency reported that former health secretary Sajid Javid and transport secretary Grant Shapps were also considering standing. Brexit hardliner Steve Baker said he was “seriously considering” throwing his hat into the ring.