NORTH West Hampshire MP, Kit Malthouse, has withdrawn from the race to replace Theresa May as party leader.

The housing minister said that although he believed he could "make a real difference" it become apparant during the past week that there is "an appetite for this contest to be over quickly".

The move brings the official number of contenders bidding to become the next prime minister to 11.

Among his proposals was a new social contract, "a good job, a secure home and a brilliant school. Job, house, school - the foundations of a secure and happy life".

Mr Malthouse said he had plans to end the Brexit deadlock and bring together MPs from different sides of the party to hammer out a plan.

In a message on his Twitter, Mr Malthouse said: "When I announced my intention to seek the leadership of the Conservative Party, I did so believing that I could make a real difference in delivering a Brexit that would command the support of the House of Commons. After 20 years in front line politics as a councillor, deputy mayor, MP and minister, I also wanted to lead a new generation of Conservatives stepping forward at a time of profound change in our country.

"But that experience has also made me a realist and the last few days have demonstrated that there is an appetite for this contest to be over quickly and for the nation to have a new leader in place as soon as possible.

"As such, it seems right to me that I withdraw my candidature and wish those remaining the very best, always recognising there are going to be very challenging times ahead."

He also thanked all those who supported him through his candidacy.

Mrs May has announced she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, triggering a contest to replace her.