18:00 GMT11 May 2021
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    James Cleverly was one of 13 Conservative MPs who announced they were running for the leadership, to replace Theresa May who is due to step down on June 7. Several Tories have said there are too many candidates and have urged some fringe contenders to withdraw.

    Brexit minister James Cleverly has pulled out of the race to become the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

    The Braintree MP sent out a letter to his constituents on Tuesday, 4 June. 

    Cleverly wrote: "Last week I let you know first that I intended to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party and as Prime Minister. I felt that we needed to deliver Brexit and then quickly move the conversation on to other important issues that face the country. I had hoped that the Conservative parliamentary party would support me to be the face and voice of that conversation."

    ​But the letter went on: "To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP. It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party's grassroots, MPs weren't comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to be the final two candidates. For this reason, I have withdrawn from the process of selecting a new leader and will not be submitting nomination papers."

    ​Boris Johnson remains the hot favourite to win the leadership contest, which will be decided by the end of next month.

    Two candidates will be chosen by MPs and the winner will be selected from that shortlist by the party's 100,000 members. 

    Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt are battling it out to get onto the shortlist and be the "anyone but Boris" candidate.

    To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP. It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party's grassroots, MPs weren't comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to be the final two candidates.

    For this reason I have withdrawn from the process of selecting a new leader and will not be submitting nomination papers.

    Once again I want to thank you for the support that you give me as your local MP.

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    Tags:
    candidate, leadership, contest, Conservative Party, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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