Richard Benyon has said Rory Stewart is the only leadership candidate “telling the difficult truth about Brexit”.
The Conservative MP told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes he wants the Conservative Party to embrace the ideals Mr Stewart has been touting in his leadership campaign.
“He’s certainly making the political weather and I want to be in a party and in a country that embraces the kind of ideals that he has,” he said.
“His openness, his generous, positive spirit, but also he’s the one who’s telling the difficult truth about Brexit.”
Mr Stewart nearly doubled his original vote tally in the second ballot, jumping from 19 votes to 37.
He pushed ahead of Sajid Javid on 33, and stands only four votes behind Michael Gove.
Mr Benyon said he is unsure whether the dark horse candidate can keep the momentum going.
“Whether or not he can do it I don’t know but the numbers have shown that he is improving very fast compared to the others,” he said.
The Newbury MP said he believes Mr Stewart could take a role in a government led by frontrunner Boris Johnson, despite a “fundamental disagreement” on Brexit.
“There is a fundamental disagreement between him and Boris on how one delivers Brexit and he’s said that would make it very difficult for him to be in a government that Boris led,” he said.
“But the Conservative party is an incredibly broad church and actually on many issues, particularly social issues, they’re both social liberals."
He added: “So of course they can work together in whatever form that takes.”