Tory leadership tensions spilled over into parliament today when two contenders were seen having a passionate row in the corridors of power.
Sam Gyimah and Rory Stewart were seen having a robust exchange of words at just after lunchtime on Wednesday, the day after the party made it more difficult for leadership hopefuls to get on to the ballot.
Stewart, who has led an energetic campaign focused on speaking to people in the country, was heard telling Gyimah: “Treat me like a friend, be straight with me.”
Later on in the conversation, Gyimah hit back: “I’ve staked my entire career on this.”
Stewart and Gyimah are seen as two of the outsiders in the race to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.
Stewart, the international development secretary, has been outspoken in his opposition to the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal.
He also accused leadership rivals such as Boris Johnson of “a lack of realism” over suggestions a new withdrawal agreement could be negotiated with the EU before the current Article 50 extension finishes on 31 October.
Gyimah is the only Tory leadership candidate out of the 11 still in the running who has called for another referendum on Brexit.
Nominations for candidates in the leadership race opens on Monday 10 June, with hopefuls needing the support of at least eight other Tory MPs to make it onto the ballot paper.
The first round of voting will take place on Thursday 13 June, and any candidate receiving 16 votes or fewer will be eliminated.
After the second ballot – scheduled for Tuesday 18 June – any candidate receiving 32 votes or fewer will be eliminated.
If the ballot thresholds are met by all candidates, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated.
Balloting will continue until two candidates remain – at which point the Conservative party membership will vote on who they wish to be their new leader.
The result of the contest is expected to be announced on 22 July.