LONDON: Former Secretary Sajid Javid has been knocked out of the Tory leadership race, leaving three contenders vying for the job and to be the next prime minister.
The home secretary received 34 votes, coming behind Jeremy Hunt with 59. Of the 313 Conservative MPs who voted, there were two spoilt ballots. Michael Gove received 61 votes, leapfrogging Mr Hunt to gain second place; while frontrunner Boris Johnson got 157 votes from MPs, BBC has reported.
MPs are now voting in a fifth ballot to select the two candidates who will go through to a party membership vote. The vote closed at 17:30 BST and the result was due at about 18:00 pm on Thursday. But the result was not declared by sending our paper to press for printing.
The remaining two MPs will compete in a run-off of the party’s 160,000 or so members, and the winner will be announced in the week of 22 July.
Mr Sajid Javid said he was “truly humbled by the support I have received. If my ambition and conduct in this contest has set an example for anyone, then it has been more than worth it,” he said. “These are very challenging times ahead for our party and our government… the Conservatives must continue to be a broad church.”
Addressing his comments to “kids who look and feel a bit different to their classmates” he said: “Don’t let anyone try and cut you down to size or say you aren’t a big enough figure to aim high. “You have as much right as anyone to a seat at the top table.”
The next Tory leader and prime minister will be chosen by Conservative members next month from the two candidates that make it through.
Sources in Mr Johnson’s camp played down a report in the Daily Telegraph that his supporters might lend their votes to Mr Javid in order to knock Mr Gove out of the contest. Mr Gove’s decision to stand for the leadership in 2016 effectively torpedoed Mr Johnson’s campaign then and the wounds have not healed.
Mr Gove insisted “I do think I would be a better prime minister than Boris” but “he has formidable qualities and he is a big part of the Conservative Party’s and the country’s future”.
While Mr Johnson has “communication skills aplenty”, the Environment Secretary told LBC that “I believe that I would be better equipped than any of the other candidates” to take Jeremy Corbyn “to the cleaners” with a “forensic” examination of his policies.
In Wednesday’s ballot, Mr Johnson received 143 votes, up from 126 on Tuesday, with Mr Hunt on 54, up from 46. Mr Gove was in third place, up 10 from 41 to 51 votes, while Mr Javid picked up five extra votes to reach 38.