Tory leadership result: Boris Johnson tops poll as Dominic Raab eliminated

Andrew Woodcock

Brexit hardliner Dominic Raab has been eliminated from the Conservative leadership contest, as front-runner Boris Johnson extended his lead in the race to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

But the shock result of the second round of voting by Tory MPs at Westminster was the breakthrough of early outsider Rory Stewart, who almost doubled his tally to shoot into fourth place with 37.

Mr Johnson's 126 votes was 12 up from the 114 he took in last week's first round and put him 80 votes clear of foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt on 46.

Mr Hunt failed to build momentum on his second-place finish last week, gaining just three new supporters. And environment secretary Michael Gove put on four votes to hold on to third place with 41.

Mr Stewart's jubilant team hailed a "fantastic" result for the international development secretary, who was seen as a no-hoper by many at Westminster when he announced his intention to fight for the succession to Theresa May earlier this year.

After a widely-praised performance in TV hustings at the weekend and a well-regarded campaign of cameraphone clips on social media, the former solidier and diplomat gained 18 extra votes, having secured the endorsement of senior centre-ground figures including Ms May's effective deputy David Lidington.

A source close to Stewart said the result showed that "his momentum is continuing to build and he can now go all the way to the final two" alongside Mr Johnson, providing a "clear choice" for the Conservative members who will make the final decision in a postal ballot next month.

Home secretary Sajid Javid clung on by the skin of his teeth, getting exactly the 33 votes he needed to remain in the contest.

A spokesman said he would "fight on", and his campaign team immediately posted a tweet confirming he would take part in a televised debate with the four other remaining candidates on the BBC later in the evening.

Mr Raab's campaign had been dogged by Mr Johnson's success in winning the support of high-profile Brexiteers including defeated leadership contenders Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom and European Research Group leaders Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker. The former Brexit secretary, who had threatened to shut down parliament to prevent MPs blocking a no-deal outcome, finished last on 30 votes, three short of the required minimum.

Announcing the result in a Commons committee room, the acting co-chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Dame Cheryl Gillan revealed that all 313 Tory MPs voted and no ballot papers were spoiled. This means that Ms May cast her ballot, though she has said she will not reveal which candidate she backed.

Mr Gove's campaign said his result was "encouraging".

"Michael has gained support and closed the gap to second," said a campaign source. "It's still all to play for."

Further rounds of voting on Wednesday will successively eliminate the least popular candidates until only two remain to go forward to the ballot of around 160,000 members in the country. The new leader and prime minister is due to be announced in the week of 22 July.