In a significant blow to Boris Johnson’s hopes of becoming prime minister the architect of his Brexit withdrawal deal has come out in support of Rishi Sunak in the race for the Conservative leadership.
David Frost said that the Tories must “move on” following the resignation of Liz Truss as PM, warning that a return to Mr Johnson’s leadership would risk “repeating the chaos and confusion of the last year”.
Although he is unable to nominate Mr Sunak, as he is not an MP, Lord Frost’s endorsement could be highly influential in determining which way MPs and party members cast their votes.
He has become a totemic figure among Brexiteers since serving as Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator for exiting the European Union.
He quit in December last year, in part because he felt Mr Johnson was failing to deliver on what he believed to be the benefits of Brexit.
Writing on Twitter, Lord Frost said: “Boris Johnson will always be a hero for delivering Brexit.
“But we must move on. It is simply not right to risk repeating the chaos and confusion of the last year.
“The Tory Party must get behind a capable leader who can deliver a Conservative programme. That is Rishi Sunak.”
He added: “As I wrote in July, Rishi would be a very able prime minister. He understands the issues, can work the machine, and is a decent guy to boot.
“He would mark a big change in ‘feel’ from the Boris years. That’s what we now need. Let’s get behind Rishi.”