Michael Gove faces increasing pressure from Tory figures to abandon his leadership bid, with many blaming him for causing a rift in the party for running a divisive Brexit campaign.

Gove was expected to lend support to Boris Johnson’s leadership bid, but soon after winning the Brexit vote he turned on his former friend, with those close to the Johnson campaign accusing him of “stabbing Boris in the back”.

Government ministers hope that if Gove quits his bid, the Tory party can unite behind Theresa May, who remained quiet for much of the Brexit campaign.

May already has more pledges of support from Conservative MPs than Gove and the other candidates – Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom.

The five leadership contenders have until Tuesday to build support among the 329 Conservative MPs before the first round of voting begins. Each round of voting will result in the contender with the fewest votes being eliminated, with the winner due to be announced on 9 September.

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