Tory leadership race: Battle to narrow to final two contenders

Tory leadership race: Battle to narrow to final two contenders

The four remaining leadership hopefuls

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Tory leadership race to become the next Prime Minister enters its final phase at Westminster as rivals compete to take on Boris Johnson.

Former foreign secretary Mr Johnson appears certain to make it through to the next stage of the process, having securing the votes of 143 of the 313 Tory MPs.

Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid also remain in the contest, but two rounds of voting on Thursday will whittle the field down to a final pairing.

At each round the MP with the lowest total will be eliminated, with the final announcement due to be made at 6pm.

The next party leader will be chosen by Conservative members next month from the two candidates that make it through.

In Wednesday's ballot, Mr Johnson received 143 votes, up from 126 on Tuesday, with Mr Hunt on 54, up from 46.

Mr Johnson also thanked his "friends and colleagues" for their support after the third round of voting. 

Mr Gove was in third place, up 10 from 41 to 51 votes, while Mr Javid picked up five extra votes to reach 38.

Rory Stewart was eliminated from the contest after his tally fell from 37 to 27 and he suggested there had been "shenanigans" in the run-up to the ballot.

Writing on Twitter, the international development secretary said he had been “moved and inspired” by the support he had been given by MPs.

Amid speculation that Mr Javid has his eyes on becoming Mr Johnson's chancellor, the home secretary insisted his sights were set on Number 10 and he was "in it to win it".

Mr Hunt said he was the person best-placed to take on Mr Johnson, promising to put his "heart and soul" into the contest.

"The stakes are too high to allow anyone to sail through untested," he said.

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