Mr Tugendhat tweeted: “Although it wasn’t to be today, I am immensely proud of the positive vision we put forward for our country.
“Thank you to all those who supported me and believed in #ACleanStart.
“This is only the beginning!”
It came as the leadership race became increasingly toxic with claims Penny Mordaunt missed ministerial meetings because she was plotting her Tory leadership bid
The trade minister’s absence from meetings forced colleagues to pick up the pieces, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan alleged in a scathing attack on the leadership hopeful.
In a sign of the concern about the way the leadership race is being conducted, campaign frontrunner Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed they did not want to take part in a Sky News debate planned for Tuesday – prompting the broadcaster to cancel the show.
“Conservative MPs are said to be concerned about the damage the debates are doing to the image of the Conservative Party, exposing disagreements and splits within the party,” a Sky statement said.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he is “astonished” by candidates withdrawing from the debate, arguing that it demonstrates a lack of “confidence”.
He told reporters at a central London bank: “I can see, based on what I’ve seen in the debates so far, why they want to do so because this is a party that is out of ideas, out of purpose, they’re tearing each other apart.”