Matt Hancock pulls out of Tory leadership race
- Credit: PA
Regional MP Matt Hancock has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race.
Mr Hancock, health secretary and West Suffolk MP, secured just 20 votes in the first ballot of Conservative MPs, which left him in sixth place in the race to be the next leader.
The move leaves just six candidates in the battle for 10 Downing Street, with Boris Johnson the current frontrunner.
Mr Hancock tweeted: "Thank you for all your support. I have decided to withdraw from the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. I will now look for the best way to advance the values we fought for."
In his campaign, on the issue of Brexit, Mr Hancock vowed to go to Brussels to broker a time limit to the controversial Irish backstop and said MPs would block a no-deal exit.
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He also pledged to raise the national living wage to more than £10 an hour.
It is thought that Home Secretary Sajid Javid - who secured 23 votes in the ballot on Thursday - may seek Mr Hancock's backing.
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Mr Johnson was the clear winner in the first ballot with 114 votes - 71 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Jeremy Hunt.
Candidates need to secure 33 votes in the second ballot on Tuesday in order to continue in the contest.
In a statement, Mr Hancock added that he was "hugely grateful" for the support he received during his campaign.
"I'm hugely grateful for the warm and enthusiastic support I've received throughout this campaign, and am proud of the way we managed to set the agenda by promoting new ideas to make people's lives better," he said.
"I ran as the candidate of the future, but the party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now.
"I have therefore decided to withdraw from this contest, and I will look for the best way to advance the values we fought for, of free enterprise, and an open, aspirational, free society, underpinned by an optimistic belief in the value of each individual person.
"I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward."