Boris Johnson has revealed he will be standing as a candidate to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader when she exits the role.
“Of course I’m going to go for it,” the former foreign secretary told a business event in Manchester on Thursday.
The Prime Minister has said she will step down before the next phase of the Brexit negotiations but she has not yet put a date on her departure.
She is immune to a leadership challenge until December 2019 after winning a vote of confidence last year.
Several senior Tories are expected to enter the contest following Mrs May’s resignation.
Among those who have already indicated they will put themselves forward for the race are Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Rory Stewart.
Ms McVey, who resigned as work and pensions minister in November in protest at Mrs May’s exit deal with the European Union, told Talkradio she plans to run.
She said: “I have always said quite clearly that if I got enough support from my colleagues, yes I would (run). Now people have come forward and I have got that support, so I will be going forward.”
Mr Stewart, who was promoted to International Development Secretary this month, has also said he will put himself forward.
He opposes a ‘no deal’ exit and has been a vocal advocate of Mrs May’s deal with Brussels.
“I do want to bring this country together … I accept Brexit, I am a Brexiteer, but I want to reach out to ‘Remain’ voters as well,” he told the BBC.
Mr Johnson resigned from Cabinet in July last year over the prime minister’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.
The face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, the Tory MP set out his pitch to the membership in a speech at the party’s annual conference in October, with some members queueing for hours to get a seat.
He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax, strong policing and not to follow the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.
Mr Johnson’s announcement comes as Mrs May held talks with senior Tories at Westminster amid growing pressure for her to leave.
The Prime Minister met the executive of the powerful backbench 1922 Committee for around an hour and a half in her room in the House of Commons.
Following the meeting, which lasted longer than expected, members of the 18-strong executive were set to have further private talks to consider their next steps.
There was no immediate word as to how the talks went.