Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have made their pitch to be the next prime minister at the first of 16 Conservative Party hustings.
The two contenders for Number 10 laid out their vision for the country at a conference in Birmingham.
Mr Johnson said these were “dark days” for his party, but insisted he could turn things around.
But his rival warned members not to elect the “wrong person” and risk “catastrophe”.
Mr Johnson said the most important thing was to “get Brexit done”.
He said: “My ambition is to unite this country and our society… let’s take Britain forward.
“We need to discover a new confidence in our country.”
‘Slamming and banging’
The former mayor of London featured on most of Saturday’s newspaper front pages following reports by the Guardian that police were called to his London home after neighbours reported “slamming and banging” in the early hours of Friday morning.
The Metropolitan Police Service have said they will not be taking any further action following the episode.
Asked by the hustings moderator, LBC presenter Iain Dale, whether character mattered when choosing a prime minister, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think people want to hear about that.”
Accused of ducking questions, Mr Johnson said: “People are entitled to ask me what I want to do for the country.”
His rival, Mr Hunt, said the UK was in a “very serious situation”.
He continued: “Get things wrong and and there will be no Conservative government, and maybe even no Conservative Party.
“Get things right and we can deliver Brexit, unite the party and send [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn packing.”
But he warned that if Tory party members elected the “wrong person” as leader then “catastrophe awaits”.