Not one of the Tory leadership contenders would have Boris Johnson in their cabinet if they become prime minister, it has emerged.
The five remaining hopefuls to lead the Conservative Party and the country were taking part in the second televised leadership debate on Sunday evening.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, trade minister Penny Mordaunt, foreign secretary Liz Truss, senior backbencher Tom Tugendhat and former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch faced off against each other in the debate, broadcast live on ITV.
Presenter Julie Etchingham asked if any of the candidates would ask Johnson, forced to resign as prime minister earlier this month, to serve in their cabinet if they made it into Number 10.
Not one of the five candidates raised their hand.
Mordaunt did say: "He got Brexit done."
Before any of the other candidates could expand on why there would be no place for Johnson in their cabinet, the programme took an ad break.
When the broadcast resumed, Etchingham said of Johnson: "I wonder if he's watching tonight."
All of the candidates said they did not think the country should have another general election in the near future.
The Tory leadership candidates set out why they believed they should become prime minister as the ITV debate began.
Sunak told viewers: “I’m standing to be your next prime minister because Britain’s potential is limitless and I’m the best person to lead us into the future.”
Truss said: “I want to unleash Britain’s potential. I’ve shown I can deliver as foreign secretary, I’m now ready to lead as your prime minister.”
Badenoch said: “I’m the candidate who will tell you the truth. I’m running because things need to change and I will make our country better.”
Foreign affairs committee chairman Tugendhat said: “We know that things have been difficult and we need a clean start, we are facing problems abroad and at home. It’s time for a change, I’m ready to serve, I’m ready to lead.”
Mordaunt said: “My life has been about service”.
Sunak said he would bring honesty to the role of prime minister.
He told the debate: “I want to be honest with the country about the economic challenge that we face, and what’s going to be required to deal with that.
“And that’s not politically convenient for me, to not just say the easy things, but I think it demonstrates to people that I will be honest with them about what lies ahead and I’ll be responsible in dealing with it, even if it’s not politically easy.”
Mordaunt said a “good team” would make her a better prime minister than Johnson.
She said: “My whole campaign has been built around building a team.
“My now legendary campaign video did not feature me at all, it was all about my colleagues and it was all about the country.
“I think our leadership model that we’ve had in politics is completely broken. It doesn’t deliver for people and we need a new approach.
“I recognise that and I would look to build a team of all the talents in our party.”
Badenoch said it was “time for change”, and claimed her resignation from Johnson’s government took courage.
“It was very difficult for me to resign my job last week, it took a lot of courage because I knew what would happen afterwards," she said.
She said “being brave, and more importantly using that bravery to protect other people” was one of her key attributes.
She added that she wanted to bring “unity” back to the Tory party because “I’m tired of us being Brexiteers and Remainers”.
Truss admitted she was not the “slickest” of the candidates.
“I’m somebody who says what I think, I’m honest, I was brought up in Yorkshire – I say what I mean and I mean what I say," she said.
“I’m somebody that, when I promise to deliver something, I do deliver it.”
Tugendhat said: “It’s quite clear that what we have been through in the last few years is a crisis of confidence in our government.
“Our government has been collapsing trust as though it was a concertina and what we need now is a clean start.”
Asked what would make him a better prime minister than Johnson, Tugendhat said his military service showed he was “willing to stand up not just to our enemies, but to our friends” and call out where changes were needed.
Watch: Conservative leadership candidates arrive for debate