Boris Johnson has exacted revenge on his former ally Michael Gove, by backing energy minister Andrea Leadsom as the next prime minister.
The endorsement damages Mr Gove's chance of reaching a run-off for the leadership of the Conservative party, and further establishes Mrs Leadsom, a former banker with no cabinet experience, as a serious rival to the frontrunner Theresa May.
"Andrea Leadsom offers the zap, the drive, and the determination essential for the next leader of this country," said Mr Johnson, who abruptly withdrew from the race last Thursday after discovering Mr Gove had turned against him. "She has a better understanding of finance than almost anyone else in Parliament."
A ConservativeHome poll of party activists gave Mrs Leadsom 38 per cent support, compared with Mrs May's 37 per cent.
On Monday Mrs Leadsom warned that she will turn her sights on City excess if she reaches Number 10.