David Cameron has described coming a close second in the first round of voting in the Tory leadership contest as "better than I expected".
The shadow education secretary, who gained 56 MPs' votes - six fewer than David Davis - said he would be talking to Ken Clarke, who was eliminated.
Mr Cameron, the bookmakers' favourite to win, said he was "focused" on doing better in the next ballot on Thursday.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said he was "undoubtedly the winner" so far.
Speaking outside the Commons just minutes after the result was announced, Mr Cameron said: "Well it's a very good result - it's better than I expected.
"My team have worked very hard - we've had a very good response from members of the public ...
"But we've got to focus now absolutely on the second ballot and make sure that we talk to Kenneth Clarke and all of his supporters, and try and encourage them to back me...so we can got through to the stage in the country with the strongest possible vote of members of parliament."
Shadow family secretary Theresa May, a key Cameron supporter, dismissed suggestions that Labour MPs were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of such an inexperienced Tory leader.
"With David Cameron as our helmsman, Labour will be in for a very rude shock," she said.
"He will make mincemeat of the Labour Party and the government. Crucially he will appeal to voters in the country."