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Talk of backroom deals and 'lending' votes as Tory contest shrouded in smoke and mirrors

Today we’ll see the final two chosen after two more votes.

Frontrunner Boris Johnson look set to lead into the final two.
Frontrunner Boris Johnson look set to lead into the final two.
Image: Matt Dunham/PA Images

CONSERVATIVE PARTY MPS could be voting twice today to bring to an end their portion of the leadership contest.

After Rory Stewart’s elimination following the fourth vote yesterday, four candidates remain. 

In yesterday’s ballot, Boris Johnson grew his support among MPs to 143 votes followed by Jeremy Hunt on 54 , Michael Gove on 51 and Sajid Javid on 38.  

Johnson’s support grew after Dominic Raab was eliminated in the previous round of voting. Stewart’s vote actually decreased by 10, from 37 to 27. 

This has led to suggestions that Johnson supporters have been tactically lending their votes to other candidates as a way of ensuring various contenders are knocked out. 

Former interior minister Amber Rudd today called on Johnson to denounce these actions if they are taking place. 

Before yesterday’s vote, Stewart said he had been speaking to Gove about potentially joining forces.

The format of the contest sees MPs whittle down the options to two candidates before they are then put to the wider party, made up of about 120,000 members.

When Theresa May won the party’s leadership in 2016 this did not happen as her rival Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the contest before the membership voted. 

Johnson is already seemingly assured being in the run-off vote so today’s votes will determine who he will face. 

Hunt has come second to former London mayor Johnson in the first three rounds and pledged: “If I make it to the final I will put my heart and soul into giving him the contest of his life.”

The last two will then face 16 hustings meetings around the country and two televised debates before Tory party members send in their postal votes to pick a new leader.

The winner will be announced in the week beginning 22 July and will be presented to parliament which will vote to confirm them as prime minister. 

- With reporting by © – AFP 2019

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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