Esther McVey has thrown her hat into the ring to succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and prime minister.
The former work and pensions secretary, who resigned in protest at May’s Brexit deal, confirmed on Thursday she would enter the race.
Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on TalkRadio, she said: “I have always said quite clearly if I got enough support from my colleagues, yes I would.
“Now people have come forward and I have got that support, so I will be going forward.”
McVey, MP for Tatton, also said Theresa May’s departure as PM needs to be “dignified and graceful”.
She added: “We all know Theresa May is dutiful. She has worked for public service for many years.”
The Tory leadership contest is well underway, despite not yet formally having begun.
Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, said this week she was “seriously considering” running.
Rory Stewart, the new international development secretary, has also said he intends to stand.
Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Penny Modaunt and Matt Hancock are also expected to have a shot.
May has rebuffed demands to set out a timetable for her departure from No 10 amid growing pressure from Tory MPs to make way for a new leader.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, May faced a direct call from a Conservative MP to stand down, the Press Association reports.
Brexit-backing Andrea Jenkyns told May she had “failed” in EU withdrawal negotiations and forfeited the trust of the public.
“The public no longer trust her to run Brexit negotiations,” she said.
“Isn’t it time to step aside and let someone else lead our country, our party and the Brexit negotiations?”
May replied: “This is not an issue about me and it’s not an issue about her.
“If it were an issue about me and the way I vote, we would already have left the European Union.”