South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt has announced he will be “voting for change” in Monday’s confidence vote at the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a vote of confidence later which could spell the end of his term as Conservative Party leader.
It comes after at least 54 Conservative MPs sent letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, requesting the ballot.
And Mr Johnson’s former leadership rival, Mr Hunt, has become the highest profile Tory to announce they will be voting against the prime minister.
Mr Hunt posted a series of tweets on Monday morning, commenting that the current Tory leadership is “not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country”.
He added without a change at the top, the Conservatives “are set to lose the next general election”.
It marks the first time the former health and foreign secretary has publicly campaigned against the prime minister since Mr Johnson edged out Mr Hunt in the 2019 Tory leadership contest.
Mr Hunt said: “The Conservative Party must now decide if it wishes to change its leader. Because of the situation in Ukraine this was not a debate I wanted to have now but under our rules we must do that.
“Having been trusted with power, Conservative MPs know in our hearts we are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve. We are not offering the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.
“And because we are no longer trusted by the electorate, who know this too, we are set to lose the next general election.
“Anyone who believes our country is stronger, fairer & more prosperous when led by Conservatives should reflect that the consequence of not changing will be to hand the country to others who do not share those values. Today’s decision is change or lose. I will be voting for change.”
Mr Johnson has been under increasing pressure over the so-called “partygate” scandal.
A report written by civil servant Sue Gray detailed a number of parties held at 10 Downing Street while the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Mr Brady said the Prime Minister was informed of the confidence vote on Sunday evening.
“The threshold of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded,” Mr Brady wrote.
The vote will be held between 6pm and 8pm this evening (Monday).
“The votes will be counted immediately afterwards. An announcement will be made at a time to be advised,” Mr Brady said.
A Downing Street spokesman said the vote was a “chance to end speculation and allow the government to draw a line and move on”.
At least 180 Conservative MPs would have to vote against Mr Johnson for him to have to stand down as Prime Minister.
Mr Hinds said: “It was essential to have investigation, lessons learned and apology. We now must move forward, united and with focus on the country’s priorities and the challenges we face, not a destabilising leadership election. I will be voting for the PM tonight.”