The chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), a centrist Tory who has never served in government, said he would offer the party a “fresh start”. Mr. Tugendhat was outspoken in his criticism of the man he hoped to replace in the months before Mr. Johnson resigned.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the former soldier said: “I am assembling a broad coalition of colleagues that will bring new energy and ideas to government and finally overcome the Brexit divide that has dominated our recent history.
“I used to serve in the army, and now in the parliament.
“Now I hope to answer the call again as Prime Minister. It’s time for a clean start. It’s time for an update.”
At least four Tory MPs backed Mr Tugendhat before he made his bid. Damian Green, a former minister, said: “I support Tom Tugendhat.
“We need a fresh start, a fresh start, we need to reset the Conservative Party and the wider government in this country to get back to normal governance, to keeping the conventions, to supporting the institutions that we have in this country.”
Mr Tugendhat said he would “go for it” if the opportunity presented itself and questioned colleagues’ reticence to admit their ambitions.
He wrote: “I don’t think you should be embarrassed if you want to serve your country, I was very proud to serve my country.
“Of course I want to have an influence that helps shape the country for the better.”
Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss were all thought to be considering bids, with Ms Mordaunt the bookies’ favourite.
The PA news agency reported that former health secretary Sajid Javid and transport minister Grant Shapps were also considering nominations. Brexit hardliner Steve Baker said he was “seriously considering” entering the ring.