Matt Hancock withdraws from Tory leadership race

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race as candidates seek a way to defeat front-runner Boris Johnson.

Mr Hancock, who secured 20 votes in the first ballot of the contest on Thursday, said the party is looking for a candidate for the "unique circumstances that exist now".

He tweeted: "I have decided to withdraw from the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. I will now look for the best way to advance the values we fought for."

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In his campaign, on the issue of Brexit, Mr Hancock vowed to go to Brussels to broker a time limit to the controversial Irish backstop and said MPs would block a no-deal exit. He also pledged to raise the national living wage to more than £10 an hour.

It is thought that Home Secretary Sajid Javid - who secured 23 votes in the ballot on Thursday - may seek Mr Hancock's backing.

Mr Johnson was the clear winner in the first ballot with 114 votes - 71 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Jeremy Hunt. However, Mr Hancock came sixth.

He said he was "hugely grateful" for the support he had received throughout the campaign and that he was "proud of the way we managed to set the agenda".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has withdrawn from the Tory leadership race

"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."