The MP for Maldon is still backing Boris Johnson for Prime Minister following misconduct claims.

John Whittingdale has continued to support the former mayor of London, after claims he lied about the UK paying the European Union £350m a week during the pro-Brexit campaign.

He has been summonsed to court amid the allegations from 2016, which will see him tried for misconduct in public office.

Mr Whittingdale slammed the court proceedings, saying: “The court case surrounding Boris is utterly absurd.

“I agree with a lot of the comments the media have made and I think it is not appropriate for the courts to be involved in politics like this.

“The figure that was on the side of that bus is a matter of argument, and if we are going to enter into that kind of discussion, Boris is not the one who is solely responsible.”

Around a dozen MPs have thrown their names into the hat to take over from Theresa May after June 7.

Mr Whittingdale is still confident Boris is the man for the job, saying: “We have had some quite big declarations of support for Boris.

“It is however becoming frankly ridiculous, the number of candidates we now have. There are 13 candidates and there could be another three that we have heard about.

“I there should be a maximum of five considered in the end for the leadership.”

Braintree MP, James Cleverly announced himself as a candidate for the leadership in an interview with the Braintree and Witham Times.

Mr Whittingdale suggested it will not just be Mr Cleverly in Essex who could be going for Prime Minister.

He said: “Not only is James my neighbour, but he is one of a few. There is Priti Patel too who could be going for leadership too.

“I like Priti, she and I have a similar view on Brexit but I do not think she has the popular appeal needed for the role by comparison to Boris.

“My party is in such a mess right now, we need someone who is going to win the community’s support, and that is Boris.”