PM candidate Stewart talking with Gove about combining forces to thwart Johnson

Brenda Watkins
June 20, 2019

But it was Rory Stewart, the worldwide development secretary, who made the biggest stride forward, almost doubling his backing from 19 to 37 votes.

But Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said people accused the Tories of being "the party of the rich" and "we must never fall into the trap of doing tax cuts for the rich and confirming that prejudice".

Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart has confirmed he is in talks with rival Michael Gove about possibly "combining forces" in the contest to become the next prime minister.

Boris Johnson stretched his lead further, picking up 17 new votes for a total of 146, almost half of the parliamentary Conservative Party.

Hunt Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Stewart all trailed far behind in what is now effectively a race for second place.

One of them will be eliminated in another ballot later Wednesday, before further votes on Thursday to whittle the field down to a final pair.

"By October 31, our boy, you're out of a job".

Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and Mayor of London, was topping the first ballot earlier this month with 114 votes.

Today's vote ended the gravity-defying campaign of Stewart, who began as a longshot but sent an electric charge through the race as the "anti-Boris" candidate.

As the candidate who now has the fewest number of backers, there are rumours Sajid Javid could drop out, but supporter Stephen Crabb told Newsnight his favoured candidate had performed well in the debates and was not about to quit.

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The Queen was left amused at Royal Ascot on Tuesday after Mike Tindall surprised her with the contents underneath his top hat. On Monday, the royal and her husband Willem Alexander, 52, attended the Order of the Garter Service at Windsor Castle.

Mr Stewart's loss of 10 votes has fuelled speculation at Westminster that some of Mr Johnson's backers had lent him support in order to ensure that hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab was eliminated in Tuesday's second ballot.

Mr Francois has come out in support of Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership contest.

Mr Johnson is nearly certain to make the run-off of 160,000 or so Conservative members who will elect the next Tory leader in a postal ballot, starting next week.

After helping to win the Brexit referendum for the Leave side in 2016, Johnson's bid to succeed David Cameron as prime minister was scuppered when his close ally Gove abruptly deserted him and announced his own candidacy.

MPs rejected the divorce deal she struck with Brussels three times, shredding her authority.

"If you give them the kind of prime minister they think they can do business with, who is going to be fair and tough, then my reading of this is they do want to solve this", he said.

Raab was viewed as the candidate with the most hardline policy on Brexit, even suggesting he could suspend the session of parliament if it tried to block "no deal".

It was a fractious debate taking in Brexit, Islamophobia and climate change. Many economists and businesses say a no-deal exit would cause economic turmoil by ripping up the rules that govern trade between Britain and the EU. Gove and Hunt both say they would seek another postponement if needed to secure a deal, but only for a short time.

But Javid said it was "fundamental" to get out by the new deadline no matter what.

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