Conservative David Davis' bid to lead the party has received new backing, with a senior MP lending his support to the shadow home secretary's campaign.
David Davis' response to the London bombs was praised
Deputy party chairman Andrew Mackay said Mr Davis was "the ideal candidate" to become the next prime minister.
He said Mr Davis had proved himself with his response to the London bombings and could unite the party.
Mr Mackay's support came after six fellow Tory MPs publicly declared Mr Davis to be "the man to do the job".
'Man of his age'
Mr Mackay said his friend and colleague of nearly 20 years was in his "political prime".
He said: "I am also taken by the wide range of his supporters and believe that he would unite the party with a team of the best talents available."
Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Mr Mackay praised his colleague's response in the Commons to the London bombings, saying: "You see the true mettle of a political leader when they perform at short notice in a crisis, as opposed to after much rehearsal by spin doctors. David passed with flying colours."
He continued: "He is a man of his age, who will reach out to many who have not previously taken an interest in politics, let alone in the Conservative party."
Mr Mackay's support came after a group of six MPs hailed Mr Davis as the party's "most effective performer in recent years" in a letter to the Times.
The group included Robert Syms, who supported rival leadership contender Ken Clarke at the 2001 contest.
Tory MPs Richard Bacon, Michael Fallon, Tim Loughton, Mark Simmons and Ian Liddell-Grainger also supported the bid.
In their letter they praised Mr Davis' "real statesmanship" in response to the terror attacks in London and "thoughtful" recent policy speech.
Former leadership contender David Willetts announced last week he was withdrawing from the race to back Mr Davis' bid.
But Mr Clarke told the BBC if the Tories were defeated for a fourth time in succession the party would be "slightly irrelevant to the governing of this country for quite a long time".