The former health secretary says Rishi Sunak is “one of the most decent people” in British politics.
Ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given his backing to former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the race to be Conservative leader and prime minister.
Mr Hunt was eliminated from the contest after failing to get enough votes, along with Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hunt said Mr Sunak was “one of the most decent people” he had met in British politics.
Reflecting on his own defeat, Mr Hunt said: “Politics is about momentum, I’m afraid I didn’t have it this time.”
In the last Conservative leadership election in 2019, Mr Hunt came second to Boris Johnson.
In an interview with BBC political editor Chris Mason, the one-time leadership hopeful said it was a “privilege” to run to be prime minister but added: “You only get one chance to do that, my chance was really in 2019 – politics moves on.”
He said the current race had produced an “excellent list of candidates” which proved that the Conservative Party was “modern and outward-looking”.
“In a period when we need to rebuild trust with the electorate that shows we are in tune with modern Britain.”
Asked why he was supporting Mr Sunak, he said he believed the former chancellor was someone of “formidable ability who has been thinking about the right thing to do for our economy, for families up and down the country, very hard over the last two years”.
He also described Mr Sunak as “one of the most decent, straight people with the highest standard of integrity that I have ever met in British politics”.
“That is why I would be proud to have him as my next prime minister.”
Mr Sunak – whose resignation as chancellor last week helped trigger the downfall of Mr Johnson – won the first round of voting among Conservative MPs.
However, he has faced criticism from some of his former cabinet colleagues including Jacob Rees Mogg who told Sky News Mr Sunak had been responsible for “endless tax rises… which I think have been economically damaging”.
Mr Sunak got 88 votes in the first vote, while Trade minister Penny Mordaunt came second with 67 and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was third on 50.
They will face further votes in the next few days along with the remaining candidates Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat and Suella Braverman.
The final two will then go to a ballot of Conservative Party members, and a result is expected on 5 September.