Andrea Leadsom among high profile Tories to back Boris Johnson in leadership race
Former de facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green and popular former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch both told the Standard they will back Mr Johnson in tonight’s second ballot.
Ms Crouch, the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said a key reason for her backing was that she was satisfied that Mr Johnson has dropped his controversial plan for an estuary airport to replace Heathrow’s third runway – a plan opposed in Kent where residents feared noise.
Speaking to the Evening Standard Mr Green said: “After helping to run Matt Hancock’s One Nation campaign I am delighted to announce support for Boris Johnson.
“He will achieve a successful Brexit, and maintain the values of moderate Conservatism that are the best for the Party and the country.”
He added: “This country needs unifying and healing, and the Conservative Party needs to show how it is comfortable with modern Britain. With his record as Mayor of London, Boris has shown the way to do this.”
Ms Crouch, who was the sole Brexiteer ion Mr Hancock’s team, told the Standard: "I listened carefully in the hustings yesterday and along with his strong plan for delivering Brexit by 31st October, I believe Boris is the candidate most able to take on Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage.
“From a domestic perspective I have been impressed with his interest in social justice and environmental issues and delighted that he has dropped his idea to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, a policy I was vehemently opposed to given its impact on my constituency.”
Mrs Leadsom also said he has a "big commitment" on improving infrastructure for a "pro-business agenda", which she also said she supported.
Asked about criticism Mr Johnson has faced for avoiding some media opportunities during the leadership contest, she said: "I think a lot of people know Boris very well.
"He's done a number of hustings, so he's not shying away from being scrutinised but he's picking his opportunities and it's right that he's doing that."
Mr Johnson has a number of prominent backers so far, including Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Former leadership candidate and health secretary Matt Hancock, who pulled out on Friday, has also decided to back Mr Johnson
Tory MPs prepare will vote in the second bout of the contest to select Britain's next prime minister on Tuesday.
Still in the race alongside Mr Johnson are Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart
Candidates need to gain at least 33 votes from MPs to remain in the race to reach the final run-off.
If all candidates pass the 33-vote threshold the one with the lowest total will be eliminated and by the end of the week.
Four of the six current riders will be forced out which will leave the final two to go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots.
Following the vote there is set to be a live TV debate on the BBC featuring the candidates.