“The best interests of our country inspired me to stand for the leadership. I believe that in leaving the EU a bright future awaits, where all our people can share in a new prosperity, freedom and democracy.
“The referendum result demonstrated a clear desire for change – strong leadership is needed urgently to begin the work of withdrawing from the European Union.
“A nine-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable.
“For me personally, to have won the support of 84 of my colleagues last Thursday was a great expression of confidence for which I am incredibly grateful.
“Nevertheless, this is less than 25% of the parliamentary party and after careful consideration I do not believe this is sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government should I win the leadership election.
“There is no greater privilege than to lead the Conservative Party in government and I would have been deeply honoured to do it.
“I have, however, concluded that the interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported prime minister.
“I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election and I wish Theresa May the very greatest success. I assure her of my full support. Thank you very much.”