The former Foreign Secretary has been declared a “proven winner” by a trio of ministers. Rishi Sunak, Robert Jnerick and Oliver Dowden said Boris Johnson is a One Nation Conservative, The Times reported. Mr Johnson is now in the lead with 40 public endorsements, 14 ahead of rivals, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Sunak’s support is an enormous blow to Mr Gove who he previously backed along with Mr Jenrick.
David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff, Mr Dowden, previously backed Theresa May.
During a Tory hustings last night, Mr Johnson vowed to deliver Brexit and avoid the “potential extinction” of the Conservatives.
His stark warning was echoed by fellow Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom, who said a delay to the UK’s exit from the European Union could “spell the end” for the party.
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Mr Johnson said: “We need to realise the depth of the problems we face – unless we get on and do this thing Brexit, we will be punished for a very long time.
“There is a very real choice between getting Brexit done and the potential extinction of this great party – but I believe I can take on Farage and win back the voters being won over by him.”
The Brexiteer went on to rule out calling a general election.
He said: “We are looking at a very difficult situation and we must get ready, eventually but not immediately, to beat Jeremy Corbyn and put Farage back in his box.
“We are facing an existential crisis and will not be forgiven if we do not deliver Brexit on October 31.
“I believe I am best placed to lift this party, beat Jeremy Corbyn and excite people about conservatism and Conservative values.”
Mr Johnson’s points come after Housing Minister Kit Malthouse and Brexit Minister James Cleverly pull out of the race.
A total of 11 MPs are still battling it out for the top job as Mrs May is set to resign this Friday.