Therea May bookies' favourite for Tory crown as campaign momentum grows
Theresa May appears to have built a commanding lead in winning the support of MPs as the candidates to be the next Tory leader and Prime Minister began the work of wooing colleagues.
The five hopefuls have until Tuesday to build sufficient support not only to survive the first round of voting - but also hopefully to demonstrate an overwhelming momentum towards the final cut.
One pool of potential support that will be the focus of early attention will be those who had prematurely nailed their colours to the Boris Johnson mast before he abandoned his bid after the last-minute decision by Michael Gove to enter the race.
Kwasi Kwarteng switched his support from Mr Johnson to Mrs May, accusing Mr Gove of "student politics". "I think that Michael Gove has behaved in an extraordinary way," he said. "I feel very let down."
Nadhim Zahawi, who had been a prominent supporter of Mr Johnson, also switched his support to the Home Secretary after the former mayor abandoned his leadership bid. He said: "This is a time for experience, and Mrs May has the most of those on offer."
Whichever of the hopefuls proves least popular among their 329 colleagues will be eliminated in the first round, with the contest then progressively whittled down to just two people.
Bookmakers have made Mrs May the odds-on favourite to be the next PM, with Justice Secretary Mr Gove the favourite to be her rival. They also predicted that Liam Fox would attract the fewest backers, behind Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb.