Ten candidates confirmed for Conservative leadership race

Will Metcalfe
The nominees for the Tory leadership - l to r Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart, Mark Harper, (bottom row, left to right) Esther McVey, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, and Esther McVey

Ten contenders in the Tory leadership race have been nominated to go through to the first round of voting by MPs, the joint acting chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Dame Cheryl Gillan has said.

The full list of nominees is: Boris JohnsonMichael GoveJeremy Hunt, Dominic RaabEsther McVeyRory StewartSajid JavidMatt HancockAndrea Leadsom, and Mark Harper.

On Thursday, MPs will vote in the first ballot with candidates needing 17 votes to progress to the second round. If there is a tie, the nominee with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

At present, Boris Johnson is considered the favourite with bookies offering odds of 2/5 for the former Foreign Secretary.

Tory leadership contest timetable.

Speaking after the announcement Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Borders, said: "I'm the only person who can beat Boris in the final two."

Environment Secretary Mr Gove insisted he was still in the race to "win it" despite calls for him to withdraw over his cocaine admission.

He said he had explained his regret at his past mistakes after the revelation over the weekend that he took the drug in the 1990s cast a shadow over his campaign launch on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary's campaign was bolstered by the backing of two Cabinet ministers - influential Remain supporter Amber Rudd and prominent Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt.

A man, who gave his name as Graham Moore, invades the stage at Esther McVey's launch for her bid to become Conservative leader. He branded the audience fake news before being escorted from the event.

Mr Hunt positioned himself as a "serious leader" and warned that the Tories would be "annihilated" if they fight a general election before delivering Brexit.

Other contenders - including Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Mark Harper and Boris Johnson - are expected to launch their campaigns later this week.

The MPs - who each had the backing at least eight of their colleagues - will need at least 17 votes to get through the first ballot on Thursday, while the candidate with the lowest votes will be eliminated.

Mr Hancock pledged to increase the national living wage to more than £10 an hour, and said he would reduce taxes on working people "when we can afford it".

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Mr Raab spelled out his desire to break from the EU by October 31 even without a deal if necessary, and called for a "generational change in leadership".

And Ms McVey promised public sector workers a pay rise and vowed to increase police spending and boost funding for education as she set out her vision for the country.

She told the Eurosceptic Bruges Group: "My clear agenda is to deliver Brexit on the 31st of October and then we must unite the country, and then unite our party too."

Sam Gyimah withdrew from the race on Monday claiming he had left it too late to enter the race.

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