James Cleverly pulls out of Conservative leadership race
Conservative MP James Cleverly confirmed his withdrawal from the Conservative party leadership contest today.
Cleverly's announcement leaves 12 MPs in the hunt to take over from Theresa May.
The Brexit Minister conceded with a “heavy heart” that it was “highly unlikely” he would make the final two candidates.
Cleverly’s intent to withdraw comes amid scrutiny of the high volume of candidates and calls to change the rules to the leadership contest, including increasing the number of initial nominations required to stand.
The revelation comes less than a week after Cleverly had put his name forward.
In a statement, Cleverly had stated his intent to "deliver Brexit and move the conversation on to other important issues", hoping that the Conservative party would support him to be the face and voice of that conversation".
In a statement he said: “I asked them [the Conservative party] to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP.”
However, he conceded that “despite much support, MPs weren’t comfortable" with such a move, and it is "highly unlikely" that he would progress to the final two candidates.
Prime Minister Theresa May is to stand down on June 7 but will remain in post until a successor can be appointed.
The Conservative party’s 1922 Committee will meet for a discussion on the rules of the leadership contest and the timings for the votes to take place.
Conservative MPs must first vote for their preferred candidate in order to decide the final two contenders, before the wider party members vote on which of the two remaining nominees will be named leader.