Tobias Ellwood has said that leadership hopeful Rory Stewart will “stand up and challenge” frontrunner Boris Johnson in the contest to be the next party leader.
The international development secretary is one of six MPs competing to be the new Conservative Party leader.
Mr Ellwood told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “Our party is not in a good place - look at all the election results we have had recently - and what we have seen is [Rory Stewart] who has electrified this campaign.
“He has talked about issues other than Brexit and allowed us to speak beyond our own echochamber.
“It has been quite exciting and liberating in a way to be able to say that here is somebody who can stand up and challenge Boris.
“He can be that sparring partner and can raise the bar so that we can look to the nation and say that here are policies that excite the nation and allow us to continue to earn the right to Number 10.”
Mr Stewart has previously said he would not serve in the cabinet if Mr Johnson becomes leader.
In the first round of voting, Mr Stewart only secured the backing of 19 MPs - the lowest number of any of the remaining contenders.
However since the ballot on Thursday, the leadership hopeful has gained the backing of de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington.
The six leadership contenders will face a second round of voting on Tuesday afternoon, in which candidates must gain the support of at least 33 MPs to progress.
Mr Ellwood also called on fellow Conservative MPs to “come together” and accept a compromise on Brexit.
“If we do not somehow resolve Brexit this autumn, our party will die. It is suffocating our party and it is suffocating British politics,” he said.
“People are so fed up that we have not resolved this three years after the referendum.”
He added: “We must come together and unite around a workable compromise that will actually honour the referendum result but leave us with a working relationship with Europe. That means avoiding no-deal.”