Housing minister Kit Malthouse has pulled out of the Conservative leadership race.
He said that there is an “appetite for this contest to be over quickly”.
Malthouse – who has largely left it to his junior colleague Heather Wheeler to make industry announcements, while he says he has concentrated on the new-build sector – becomes the second candidate to withdraw. The first was James Cleverly.
It still leaves 11 Tories competing for the job, which falls vacant tomorrow when Theresa May is due to resign.
Malthouse said he had thrown his hat into the ring, “believing that I could make a real difference in delivering a Brexit that would command the support of the House of Commons”.
His Brexit would have implemented May’s deal, but with unspecified “alternative arrangements” replacing the Irish border backstop.