Tory leadership race live: Hunt v Johnson in final battle for Number 10

Politics | Published:

Michael Gove was eliminated in the latest vote.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will battle to become the next prime minister after Michael Gove was eliminated from the Tory leadership contest in the final round of voting by MPs.

The final outcome of the leadership race will not be known until the week beginning July 22.

Conservative leadership contest: fifth ballot result.
(PA Graphics)

Here’s the latest:


In a video posted to social media, Jeremy Hunt said he is gong to give Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson “the fight of his life” in the contest.

“The campaign starts now, I’ve got a fantastic team behind me,” he said in the video. “We are going to give Boris the fight of his life.

“He needs to be ready for that, because we’re going to be going out there and making strong arguments that this is the best way to deliver Brexit, with someone who can go and get a better deal from the European Union, and also has so much else to offer our country.


“The entrepreneur who wants to fire up our economy, turbo-charge it and create those jobs that we all need for the future, the Foreign Secretary who wants us to walk tall in the world, the campaigner who wants our party to appeal to young people, and the social reformer who wants to abolish illiteracy.

“All these exciting messages, I’m raring to go!”



It is understood Theresa May, who voted by proxy, did not ask for her ballot to be spoilt.


Jeremy Hunt leaves Parliament following the fifth vote
Jeremy Hunt leaves Parliament following the fifth vote (Victoria Jones/PA)


European Research Group vice chairman Mark Francois said he was delighted with the result.

“It means a clean fight,” he said. “If it had been Michael it would have been a lot more kinetic.”

Mr Francois said there was a “real difference in principle” between Mr Hunt, who he labelled a Remainer, and Mr Johnson.

He added he expected Mr Johnson to win and the UK to leave the EU by October 31, adding: “What’s not to like?”


Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Boris Johnson was the man to “inspire and lead” the UK out of the EU and called on Remainer MPs to “stop bellyaching and moaning”.

Mr Duncan Smith also claimed Mr Johnson had been misinterpreted in the BBC debate when he did not commit to Brexit by the end of October in all circumstances.

Tory leadership race
(Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

He said: “When Boris said it was eminently achievable he was talking about a trade agreement.

“He said at the beginning of the programme if we don’t leave on October 31 we will face a cataclysm.”


Watch: Final two in Tory leadership race


Michael Gove’s campaign manager Mel Stride said Mr Gove’s cocaine admission had damaged his leadership bid.

He said: “It stalled us and meant momentum was lost at that time.”

Mr Stride said he did not think Mr Johnson’s campaign had been dabbling in the dark arts by lending votes to his preferred rival.

He said: “It doesn’t seem to me on first observation of this that there has been.

“Because we didn’t see a situation where, as some had speculated, a very large number of votes might have transferred from say Boris Johnson to Jeremy Hunt.

“It would appear to me everybody has behaved pretty much as one would hope they would.”


Boris Johnson v Jeremy Hunt
(PA Graphics)


Jeremy Hunt has congratulated Michael Gove after he was eliminated from the Tory leadership contest, calling him one of the “brightest stars in the Conservative team”.


Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she was sorry to Michael Gove on Twitter – after earlier pledging her support.


Jeremy Hunt conceded he was the “underdog” in the race, but noted “in politics surprises do happen”.


And then there were two…

Tory leadership race


Boris Johnson said he was “deeply honoured” to have won more than 50% of the vote.


Michael Gove thanked his “brilliant” campaign team after he was eliminated.


Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said the results are “absolutely fantastic” for Jeremy Hunt and that he is “the best man to unite the country”.


Sajid Javid said his party will need Michael Gove “more than ever to face the challenges ahead” after the Environment Secretary was knocked out of the Tory leadership contest.


Here is the result of the fifth round of voting in the Tory leadership contest:

– Michael Gove: 75

– Jeremy Hunt: 77

– Boris Johnson: 160

There was one spoiled ballot.


Tory leadership race
(Left to right) Charles Walker, Bob Blackman, Dame Cheryl Gillan, Nigel Evans and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown announce the results of the fifth ballot (Stefan Rousseau/PA)


Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will battle to become the next prime minister after Michael Gove was eliminated from the Tory leadership contest.


Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski reaffirmed his support for Boris Johnson.


Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson leaves Parliament ahead of the fifth vote (David Mirzoeff/PA)


A source in Michael Gove’s campaign said the final round of voting was “too close to call”.


International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who is backing Jeremy Hunt, said he hoped Michael Gove would not get through to the final two.

“I think it would a very odd dynamic to have two ex journalists fighting for the premiership of the country,” he told reporters.

“I’m sure it would do employment prospects a great deal for all of you but I think it’s our job to provide good governance not entertain the media.”

Dr Fox said he was surprised any MP could tell “80,000 people in their constituency to go and vote and then spoil a ballot”.

When asked if the “dark arts” were being used to mobilise votes he replied “perish the thought”.


The Tory leadership race in a single picture:



David Lidington, who previously backed Rory Stewart, implored candidates to “look beyond Brexit” as the Tory Party is “facing an existential crisis” and needed to find younger supporters.

He also warned the Union was under threat, both in Scotland and Northern Ireland, from a no-deal Brexit in particular.

He said: “I certainly believe a no-deal would add to the risks to the Union.

“We have to be confident about demonstrating the benefits of the Union for every part of the Union.”


Sajid Javid was tight-lipped as he voted, telling journalists: “I’m not saying which way I voted.”


Amber Rudd said she was “excited”, adding: “Fingers crossed for Jeremy Hunt.”


… and Mr Johnson again declined to comment as he left the room.


Frontrunner Boris Johnson has just gone in to vote without making any comment to journalists.


Speaking as he waited to enter the room to vote, candidate Jeremy Hunt, currently in third place after the morning tally, said he was feeling “confident but not overconfident… Realistic”.


Michael Gove told journalists “you’ve all been wonderful” as he left the voting room.


Former candidate Rory Stewart would not say who he voted for, although he insisted he had voted on both opportunities today, rather than spoiling his ballot.

When pressed on whether he or his supporters would back Michael Gove, currently second in the running, Mr Stewart said the waiting journalists were “charmers, all of you”.


A queue of about 20 Tory MPs waited at the door to be able to vote for the fifth time during the leadership contest.

Leaving the voting room, ERG chairman Jacob Rees Mogg said he had given his proxy vote to Anne-Marie Trevelyan and “short of giving it to Boris myself”, said he couldn’t trust anyone else more to vote “the right way”.

Former candidate Dominic Raab left the room after voting without speaking to journalists.


Jeremy Hunt said Sajid Javid’s performance in the leadership contest was a “credit to him and the party”.


Meanwhile, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson announced her support for Michael Gove to be the next prime minister after her preferred candidate, Sajid Javid, fell out of the leadership race.

She told STV News: “I stuck with Saj, I thought he was the best person for the job… In terms of the people who are left, I hope very much to see Michael in the final two and he’ll have my support.”

The next round of voting in the contest will begin at 3.30pm.


Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna said electing Boris Johnson as Tory leader would give licence “to those who spread division”.


Jeremy Hunt pledged to put Boris Johnson “through his paces”.


Asked about comments made by frontrunner Boris Johnson on the implementation period for Brexit, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “There’s no Withdrawal Agreement without a backstop and there’s no implementation period without a Withdrawal Agreement.”

On a further Brexit extension, Mr Varadkar warned: “There’s very much a strong view across the European Union that there shouldn’t be any more extensions.

“While I have endless patience, some of my colleagues have lost patience, quite frankly, with the UK and there’s enormous hostility to any further extension.

“So, I think an extension could only really happen if it were to facilitate something like a general election in the UK or perhaps even something like a second referendum if they decided to have one.

“What won’t be entertained is an extension for further negotiations or further indicative votes: the time for that has long since passed.”




Sources close to Sajid Javid told Press Association he would not be endorsing any of the remaining candidates today.



Tory leadership race
(l to r) Charles Walker, Bob Blackman, Dame Cheryl Gillan, Nigel Evans and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown announce the result (Stefan Rousseau/PA)


Mark Francois added: “The other thing that every MP wants to know is who were the two numpties who spoilt their ballot papers?

“I can’t believe anybody did that by accident.”


(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)


Boris Johnson supporter Mark Francois said of the former foreign Secretary: “He is almost certainly in the final.

“And the question is who is his opponent going to be? It’s very close.”


The contest is now down to the final three:


Michael Gove tweeted: “Absolutely delighted to come second in the latest ballot! It’s all to play for in the final ballot this afternoon. If I make the final two I look forward to having a civilised debate of ideas about the future of our country.”



Conservative MP Ross Thompson tweeted: “.@BorisJohnson is smashing it again in that latest round of voting. He is the only candidate with momentum and the only candidate bringing our MPs together from every side and part of the country. Boris can deliver Brexit, unite the party and unite the country.”


(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)


Here are the results of the fourth ballot in the Tory leadership contest:

– Michael Gove: 61

– Jeremy Hunt: 59

– Sajid Javid: 34

– Boris Johnson: 157

There were two spoiled ballots.



Sajid Javid has been eliminated from the Tory leadership race.


Here’s how the candidates fared in the last vote:

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)


Boris Johnson was the favourite as he left home early on Thursday.

(Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
(Kirsty O’Connor/PA)


George Osborne’s Evening Standard has backed Boris Johnson to become the next Prime Minister.

The former Chancellor’s newspaper wrote in an editorial: “Twice, the Evening Standard supported Boris Johnson to be the Mayor of London. Today we back him to be the next Prime Minister.”

It said Mr Johnson had the best chance of “uniting this divided government” and “had the most room for manoeuvre to get the country out of the Brexit mess”.

“That’s why we believe if there’s one of these candidates who can give Britain back its mojo, it’s BoJo,” it concluded.


Brexit has been a key battleground in the campaign:


Voting has closed in the fourth round of the Tory leadership ballot, with the results expected at about 1pm.


(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)


Justice Secretary David Gauke, who previously backed Rory Stewart for the leadership, refused to say who he voted for when he left the ballot room.



Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove have both voted. Mr Hunt said he was “confident but not over confident” while Mr Gove claimed he was looking forward to being in the final two.


(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)


Asked who she voted for, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I have answered this question the same way every time I have come out, and I think you know the same answer today, you can probably chant it with me in unison – none of your business.”


Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson appears certain to make it through to the next stage of the process, having topped the ballot in each of the three rounds of the contest so far and securing the votes of 143 of the 313 Tory MPs.

Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid also remain in the contest, but two rounds of voting on Thursday – the first announced at 1pm – will whittle the field down to a final pairing.

At each round, the MP with the lowest total will be eliminated, with the final announcement due to be made at 6pm.

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