Published: 09:25, 24 May 2019
| Updated: 10:18, 24 May 2019
A Kent MP has resigned as the Conservative Party's vice chairman for communities so she can "actively and openly support one of the new leadership candidates".
Theresa May announced the date of her departure as Prime Minister this morning, with a race to select her successor set to begin in earnest over the coming weeks.
Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant, who has served as vice chairman for 17 months, announced on social media she would be backing former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.
In a statement she said: "Dominic Raab has an inspiring vision for a fairer Britain and I think he is the best person to unite the party and the country.
"That is why I am supporting him to become our next prime minister and I am very proud to do so.
"Dominic believes everyone should get a fair shot in life and the opportunity to make the best of their talents, which is something I am passionate about.
"I believe we need someone with the determination to fight for Britain to get a fairer deal from the EU.
"Dominic is perhaps uniquely placed to deliver this with his significant experience working on international treaties as a Foreign Office lawyer.
"I know he is a tough negotiator and that's why I'm backing Dominic Raab to be our next leader and prime minister."
In her resignation letter to party chairman Brandon Lewis, she added: "My role has taken me far and wide, reaching out to diverse communities, the disadvantaged and the disabled, hearing their voices and helping our party form better, more inclusive policies.
"The advancement of social justice goes to my political core and I have enjoyed this fulfilling work enormously.
"Regrettably, I must now give notice of my resignation because I wish to actively and openly support one of the new leadership candidates and would not want there to be any perception of a conflict between the candidate's campaign and my role at CCHQ.
"The PM has, of course, said she will be leaving, a decision that I respect and believe to be right.
"I have a close relationship with my local Association and they are fully supportive of this decision."
Her resignation comes after neighbouring MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat, tipped as an outside contender for the Tory leadership, also called for Mrs May to step down, declaring "leadership matters and it has been absent for too long".
More by this authorTom Pyman