Ms Atkins announced her support in a joint letter written alongside her Home Office colleagues Caroline Nokes and Baroness Williams, in which they praised Mr Javid as an “outstanding candidate” who could united the party and the country.
The joint letter, published in The Telegraph yesterday evening, said: “These are challenging - yet exciting - times for the Conservative Party. “It is of paramount importance that we both deliver Brexit and present voters with a fresh, compelling vision for the future. The alternative is unthinkable: complete collapse in the public’s faith in our political system, risking a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. To avoid those catastrophes, we need to be clear about our values and ideas for the future - and our country’s great potential.
“The golden thread that runs through the Conservative Party - and that must run through Britain - is that no matter who you are, where you’re from or what your background is, you deserve to go as far in life as your own talent and drive will take you. People who should thrive with this approach - such as women, people from minority ethnic communities and young people - need to feel that we’re on their side if they are to vote for us.
“To put that at the centre of our agenda for the country we need a leader who understands what it is like to overcome barriers to success, such as background, race or gender.
“We have all worked with Saj during his time in the Home Office and in Government, and we know from first hand experience that he is the candidate in this leadership election who would do that.
“In the best traditions of our party, Saj’s story is one of social mobility. His journey from childhood, living on one of the toughest streets in Britain, to the top of politics is not just an inspiring story; it gives him the insight and empathy a leader needs to cut through, to understand voters across the United Kingdom, to communicate with them and to help spread opportunity and prosperity.”
The letter continues: “There is a risk in this leadership election that the party retreats into its comfort zone and ends up narrowing its appeal – or worse, actively exacerbates the painful divides which have opened up in our politics and our country.
“That is the road to a Marxist government, with all the terrible consequences that would ensue for our country.
“This contest is an opportunity. The Conservatives can and must reinvigorate and renew our image.
“We have to unite around a fresh face and a clear and positive plan for the future.
“Sajid Javid is the outstanding candidate who provides that opportunity. We are convinced he is the person around whom people will be able to unite, who represents the Britain of now and the Britain of the future, and who can win a general election. We are proud to back him as leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minister.”
Sir Edward Leigh, in the neighbouring constituency of Gainsborough, announced last month that he is backing Michael Gove for the leadership.