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race for number 10

Health secretary Matt Hancock withdraws from Tory leadership race

Hancock received just 20 votes in the first ballot of 313 Tory MPs.

Tory leadership race Health Secretary Matt Hancock launches his campaign in central London. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

THE BRITISH HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock has announced that he’s withdrawing from the Tory leadership race.

Hancock, who positioned himself as a young, moderate leader for the Conservatives who said a no-deal Brexit “wasn’t a credible policy option“, got just 20 votes from MPs in the first ballot of Tory members last night (out of the Tory party’s 313 MPs).

Speaking to the Evening Standard today, Hancock said he hasn’t decided who he will back as his preferred candidate, saying he needed time to “work out what is the best way to advance the values that I care deeply about”.

…It is clear that I can’t win from here. I’m proud that we set the agenda in the campaign, winning arguments that the party needs to be focused on the future and needs to be a pro-enterprise and pro-business party, and putting forward a credible plan to deliver Brexit so we can move forward.

Both Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid didn’t perform as well in the first Tory hustings as was expected, and there were rumours that they would also withdraw from the race.

Meanwhile, Johnson is the clear frontrunner, gathering votes from 114 MPs.

Today, Lord Alan Sugar joined those who back Johnson for Prime Minister, adding that the “public like him and he will have a good chance of winning the general election in 2021, if not before”.

TV debates

Johnson has, however, been accused of avoiding the media in order to maintain that lead; at his campaign launch, he kept questions from the media shorter than other candidates.

Johnson has been “in discussions” with British broadcasters about whether he will take part in televised leadership debates; this afternoon, it was confirmed this afternoon that he would take part in the BBC‘s leadership debate on Tuesday.

Johnson told the BBC World at One: ” I am more than happy to do the BBC TV debate on Tuesday,” adding “I have always been keen on TV debates”.

Channel 4 has another debate on Sunday, but it’s been reported that Johnson will not take part in this one, which has a live studio audience. It’s been reported that if Johnson doesn’t take part, along with all other candidates, Channel 4 will represent him with an empty lectern.

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