Kemi Badenoch has entered the race to be the next Prime Minister.
The MP resigned from her post as minister for equalities and levelling up communities on Wednesday during a whirlwind 48 hours in which dozens of Tory colleagues also stepped down from ministerial roles.
They were protesting against Boris Johnson’s handling of the scandal surrounding the selection of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.
Backbencher Tom Tugendhat became the first contender to formally throw his hat into the ring, and has been followed by a flurry of ambitious colleagues.
Badenoch, who represents Saffron Walden, said if successful in her ploy for Number 10 she plans for a smaller state and a government “focused on the essentials”.
Her policies would also including lowering taxes, alongside “tight spending”.
The 42-year-old confirmed her intention to run for the top seat in The Times on Friday.
She had posted her resignation letter on Twitter in the hours before Mr Johnson bowed out on Thursday lunchtime.
She wrote: “With great regret, I resigned from the government this morning.
“It has been an honour being equalities and local government minister. It was a privilege to have worked with so many great ministerial colleagues and civil servants in these roles.”
Tories are rushing to take sides in the race to become the new prime minister after former Chancellor Rishi Sunak declared he has set his sights on the top job.
Former minister Steve Baker has backed Attorney General Suella Braverman’s campaign – despite previously saying he was seriously considering putting himself forward for the top job.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is also widely expected to run for leader.
Mr Baker had told the PA news agency that Tory blog ConservativeHome “consistently put me in their top 10 for next prime minister, they sometimes put me in their top five”, but said it would be “very difficult” to persuade colleagues to back him for the party-wide ballot without Cabinet experience.
On Friday evening, he tweeted: “I considered standing for the leadership. My priorities were delivering against our manifesto with our mandate, cutting taxes and seeing through Brexit.
“Happily I no longer need to stand. @SuellaBraverman will deliver these priorities and more.”
Earlier, Mr Sunak announced his bid for leader on Twitter, saying: “Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country.”
His move came as allies of former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was runner-up to Mr Johnson in 2019, said he was “virtually certain” to stand again this time.
Mr Sunak has the backing of Commons Leader Mark Spencer, former Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden, and ex-minister Liam Fox.
Mr Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who has never served in government, said yesterday 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.”
Mr Tugendhat appears to have support from the moderate wing of the Tory party with ex-Deputy PM Damian Green confirming hours earlier he was backing him.
Mr Green 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.”