Boris Johnson has charged further into the lead to be Britain’s next Prime Minister in the third round of voting in the Conservative Party leadership election.
Mr Johnson received 143 votes, an increase of 17 on the second round of voting on Tuesday.
Rory Stewart was eliminated from the competition after receiving the fewest votes from Tory MPs.
Mr Stewart received a lower number votes than he did yesterday after the momentum powering his campaign, which saw him come from rank outsider to genuine contender, appeared to stall.
Mr Johnson picked up additional votes after hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab was booted out of the race yesterday.
Mr Raab came out in favour of Mr Johnson earlier today, saying he was he was the sole contender who would ensure Brexit happened by October 31.
Roughly half of Mr Raab’s votes appear to have jumped to Mr Johnson.
The full results were -
Michael Gove: 51
Jeremy Hunt: 54
Sajid Javid: 38
Boris Johnson: 143
Rory Stewart: 27
After the results were announced Mr Stewart tweeted to thank the MPs who supported him.
I am so moved & inspired by the support I have received over the last few weeks - it has given me a new faith in politics, a new belief in our country. I didn’t get enough MPs to believe today - but they will 🙂 I remain deeply committed to you and to this country. #RoryWalksOn— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 19, 2019
Asked about why his support had dropped he told Sky News: “I don’t understand, you’ll have to ask the MPs who switched.”
He denied feeling deflated by the result, adding: “No, I’m feeling energised: the reality is you never know what MPs get up to in a secret ballot. They clearly decided that they were going to back a winner and they’re going to go in other directions.”
Commenting on the remaining candidates he said: “I wish them the best of luck. This is of the utmost importance to our country.”
Mr Stewart was the only candidate to come out firmly against a no-deal Brexit and the only one not promising to renegotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal - something the EU has said repeatedly it will not consider.
Justice Secretary David Gauke, a staunch supporter of Mr Stewart, called him an ‘inspirational candidate’ on Twitter.
Disappointed that the leadership campaign of @RoryStewartUK has come to an end. But it has been a privilege to have supported him. He has been an inspirational candidate delivering a message of honesty & realism. He’s now a major figure in our politics with a big role to play.— David Gauke (@DavidGauke) June 19, 2019
Another two ballots will take place tomorrow until two candidates remain and Conservative Party members will have their say on who should lead.
As Mr Johnson charges towards Number 10, the real race is now that of who will come second and join the former foreign secretary in a series of hustings over the next few weeks.
It is not clear which candidate Mr Stewart’s candidates will switch their allegiance to, although it is extremely unlikely to be Boris Johnson whose Brexit stance is most opposed to Mr Stewart’s.
elimination could boost Mr Gove’s campaign, as the two Cabinet ministers had been in talks about “combining forces” – but neither was prepared to give way.
Mr Stewart’s loss of 10 votes has fuelled speculation at Westminster that some of Mr Johnson’s backers had lent him support in order to ensure that hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab was eliminated in Tuesday’s second ballot.