Boris Wins Third Tory Leadership Vote!

PA Graphics

The contest to become Britain's next prime minister is down to four candidates, with Boris Johnson building on his commanding lead in a Conservative Party vote.

Johnson, a former London mayor and Foreign Secretary, won 143 of 313 votes cast in a third-round ballot of Conservative MPs.

It is unclear where the 27 Stewart voters will break, as while Hunt and Javid are both former Remain voters, former Vote Leave board member has reinvented himself as something of a "Remainer's Brexiter" since he blew up Mr Johnson's 2016 leadership bid by opting to run against him instead of backing him as they had previously planned.

The mainly pro-Brexit Conservative Party members, some 160,000 in all, will cast the deciding votes in a weeks-long process involving mail ballots that will culminate in the announcement of the victor the week beginning July 22. It sets up an intense fight between the two cabinet ministers for second place and the right to face the favourite, Mr Johnson.

He is trailed by foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt who received 54 votes.

The International Development Secretary, who is one of the five remaining MPs in the race to take over from Theresa May, said he is considering doing a deal with the Environment Secretary if they can come to a compromise.

As the candidate who now has the fewest number of backers, there are rumours Sajid Javid could drop out, but supporter Stephen Crabb told Newsnight his favoured candidate had performed well in the debates and was not about to quit.

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Worldwide development minister Rory Stewart managed only 27 votes and was eliminated from the contest.

Mr Raab, who was eliminated from the contest in the second round after receiving support from only 30 MPs, said Mr Johnson was the sole contender who would ensure Brexit happened by October 31.

Javid, like Johnson, says he would try to leave the European Union without an agreement rather than delay Brexit beyond October 31.

Stewart has ruled out a no-deal Brexit, saying instead he would try for a fourth time to get Parliament's backing for May's unpopular deal.

Johnny Mercer, a supporter of Mr Johnson, said he was pleased by his performance but conceded the contest "was not done yet".

Then Conservative Party grassroots members will decide who will become leader, and Britain's next prime minister, by the end of July.

Asked about why his support had dropped he told Sky News: "I don't understand, you'll have to ask the MPs who switched".

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