Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have ruled out giving Boris Johnson a role in government if they succeed him as Prime Minister.
Foreign Secretary Ms Truss said she believes Mr Johnson “needs a well-earned break” before eventually saying he will not be part of her top team.
Former chancellor Mr Sunak was more direct in stating Mr Johnson would not be involved.
Their comments came during their first head-to-head Tory leadership TV debate on the BBC.
Asked if Mr Johnson would be given a role in the cabinet, Ms Truss replied: “Having spent time with him this week on foreign affairs, I very, very much suspect that he would not want a future role in the Government, I think he needs a well-earned break from what has been a very difficult few years.
Boris Johnson Peter Nicholls
“After all, he was seriously ill with Covid, we haven’t even talked about that, and that was a terrible moment when we didn’t know what was going to happen, he has faced real challenges that no leader would have expected to face, the appalling war in Ukraine, so I simply don’t think that is really an option.”
She added: “I just don’t think it’s going to happen, I think that what’s done is done, the party has made the decision, I have told you my views of that, I have now put myself forward as a candidate because I think I’m the right person to do the job and I don’t believe that he would want further involvement.”
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss taking part in the Tory leadership debate Jacob King
Pressed further, Ms Truss said: “I am sure he will have a role, I am sure he will be vocal but he will not be part of the government.”
Mr Sunak said: “The simple answer from me is no, I think we need to look forward at this point, that’s why I want to be Prime Minister.”
The pair were also asked to rate Mr Johnson’s time in office out of 10.
Ms Truss gave Mr Johnson a seven while Mr Sunak said: “My views are clear, when he was great he was great and it got to a point where we need to move forward. In delivering a solution to Brexit and winning an election that’s a 10/10 – you’ve got to give the guy credit for that, no-one else could probably have done that.”
The debate came after a petition started by Tory peer Lord Cruddas and former MEP David Campbell-Bannerman to add Mr Johnson to the leadership vote passed 10,000 signatures at the weekend.