A Kent MP says he would run to become the new leader of the Conservative Party if Boris Johnson is forced out of power.
The Prime Minister is currently awaiting the outcome of the Sue Gray report into claims of Downing Street parties contravening Covid rules, putting pressure on his position in Number 10.
Speaking on Times Radio, the 48-year-old chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "I don’t think you should be embarrassed to want to serve your country. I was very proud to serve my country in the armed forces and I got to the highest rank I could so that I could have the best effect that I could. And I was very proud to serve as a diplomat around the world.”
Mr Tugendhat has previously been critical of the Government’s handling of the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan and has long been seen by several senior party figures as a potential future leader.
He added: "I think I’m making it pretty clear that I think that it’s up to all of us to put ourselves forward. And it’s up to the electorate, in the first case parliamentary colleagues, and in the second case the party, to choose.
“I think it’s a position of absolute integrity to say that of course you should offer yourself to the electorate if you think you can do it. Of course you should talk to colleagues and see if you can get a group together, and if you can get a group together you should go for it.
“Now I haven’t been canvassing support so I don’t know if I’d be able to get the first group together – you’ve got to get a group first. But if you could, of course you should have a go.”
On being Prime Minister, he said: “It would be a huge privilege. It’s one of those questions that I know many people ask and some people, some of my colleagues, are coy about and I don’t understand why".
But he stressed "there isn't a vacancy at the moment".
The publication of the long-awaited Gray report into alleged lockdown-busting parties was thrown into disarray on Tuesday when Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who had long resisted calls to investigate, announced her officers had opened a criminal inquiry.
Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday evening that it had received the material requested from the Cabinet Office to support its investigation.
The force said officers would examine this “without fear or favour” to establish whether any rules were broken.
The delay in publishing the report - and a potentially redacted one given the police investigation - has been seen as a move likely to bolster Boris Johnson's grasp on power, for the short term at least.
The bookies have cut the odds on Mr Tugendhat becoming the next PM with William Hill offering odds of 10-1.
However, the hot favourites remain Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he believes he has not broken any rules and so far resisted calls from both sides of the chamber to resign.