Tom Tugendhat has admitted foreign secretary “would be a fantastic job to do” – but insisted Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss has made him no promises.
Mr Tugendhat, who also stood as a candidate to take over from Boris Johnson, is the latest senior Tory MP to back Ms Truss over Rishi Sunak.
Mr Tugendhat and Ms Truss shared a warm embrace at a campaign event at Biggin Hill Airport in south London on Saturday, during which he said the current foreign secretary’s promises of tax cuts are based on “true Conservative principles” and that she can unite the party.
Mr Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, was asked by reporters if he would like to be named foreign secretary in return for his support of Ms Truss.
“Well, look, it would be a fantastic job to do, let’s not pretend it wouldn’t,” he replied.
But there are “many other jobs that I’ve spoken about wanting to do”, he added, hinting that he would like to be involved with trade.
“But the reality is I’ve been promised nothing, I expect nothing,” he went on.
“I hope for a lot, but I have no right to expect.”
Asked whether Mr Tugendhat would be foreign secretary in a government headed by her, Ms Truss said that making such a decision would be “extremely premature” because the “leadership election is not finished”.
But she did hold out an olive branch to Mr Tugendhat, describing him as a “very, very talented person”.
Boris Johnson held a celebration of his wedding to wife Carrie on Saturday.
Asked whether he should have been “concentrating more on the crises facing our country”, Ms Truss replied: “Well he’s done a fantastic job in standing up to Putin, in delivering Brexit and in delivering our COVID vaccine, and helping us deal with that great crisis.
“I think he’s entitled to enjoy his wedding day and I wish the best to him and Carrie and all the family.”
Regarding the cost of living crisis, Ms Truss said one way she would deal with it is by “growing the economy”.
She also said she was a “fan of grammar schools” and her “two daughters both go to a grammar school”.
Questioned about her status as the frontrunner in the leadership contest, she replied: “This is a very, very close race, and I am fighting for every vote.”
Rishi Sunak was also out on the campaign trail on Saturday, tweeting photos of himself with supporters in the south of England with the caption: “Busy Saturday meeting hundreds of members. Wouldn’t have it any other way!”
The former chancellor was due to attack “woke nonsense” in a speech apparently designed to enthuse the Tory grassroots on culture war issues.
He was also expected to tell supporters in West Sussex that he would prevent “left-wing agitators” from taking “a bulldozer to our history, our traditions and our fundamental values”.