Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat has become the first candidate in the race to succeed Boris Johnson.
The chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), a former soldier who has never served in government, said he would offer the party a “fresh start”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he 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 was openly critical of the man he hopes to replace in the months before Mr Johnson resigned. He clashed with the outgoing prime minister in FAC hearings and condemned Britain’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.