Matt Hancock has pulled out of the Conservative leadership race this morning. This follows speculation in this morning’s papers that he might withdraw and throw his weight behind Sajid Javid, his long-term friend.

The Health Secretary cleared the hurdles to pass the first round of the competition, but with only 20 votes was a long shot to make any further progress.

Announcing the news, he said:

“I’m hugely grateful for the warm and enthusiastic support I’ve received throughout this campaign, and am proud of the way we managed to set the agenda by promoting new ideas to make people’s lives better.

“I ran as the candidate of the future, but the Party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now. 

“I have therefore decided to withdraw from this contest, and I will look for the best way to advance the values we fought for, of free enterprise, and an open, aspirational, free society, underpinned by an optimistic belief in the value of each individual person. 

“I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward.”