Conservative leadership race enters final stretch with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt set to take part in final hustings

Jacob Jarvis

The contest between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will enter its final furlong this evening as the pair take part in the final hustings of the Conservative leadership race.

The pair will address party members who will go on to decide which of the men becomes Prime Minister, in London this evening.

It is the last of a run of 16 such hustings, in which the pair have been grilled by groups of the 160,000 Tory members deciding between them.

The winner will be declared next Tuesday once votes have been counted, with the victor taking over from Theresa May shortly afterwards.

The hustings come a day after Environment Secretary Michael Gove said both candidates "would be great Prime Ministers" and "we can trust them both to do the right thing on every critical issue".

Meanwhile, Brexit has continued to dominate the battle for Downing Street, as Cabinet member Amber Rudd insisted either man would have to compromise on EU withdrawal if they get the keys to Number 10.

Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd, who backs Mr Hunt in the election, said she was "surprised" by the hardline stance taken by the Foreign Secretary and Mr Johnson on EU withdrawal in the leadership debate which was held on Monday.

With the leadership race in the UK nearly over, the new president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen insisted that Brexit could be delayed beyond the end of October, should there be a good reason for postponement.

Mr Johnson has steadfastly stood by October 31 as an exit date for Britain from the bloc, while Mr Hunt has suggested he could seek an extension should it lead to a deal, though he has not confirmed how long he would delay for.

As the two rivals continue to pitch claims to replace her, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to use a speech on Wednesday to stake out her legacy as premier and give her overview on the state of national politics.