Conservative members of parliament have voted for the fourth time to further reduce the list of candidates who will go forward to become the next party leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with favourite Boris Johnson again leading the race.
The series of staggered votes give the teams of would-be leaders time to scheme and gain support behind the scenes, but the process has now reached a point where the ballots take place more regularly, this vote taking place less than 18 hours after the last. Another will take place this afternoon, before the final two challengers are subjected to a final vote of public members of the wider Conservative party, a process which could take up to a month.
Delighted to have the support of over half of all Conservative MPs in the fourth ballot. I am incredibly grateful, but we have much more work to do.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 20, 2019
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. #Gove4PM #ReadyToLead
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) June 20, 2019
Former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — supported by Brexiteers to lead within the Conservative Party but shadowed with doubt over his actual dedication to taking Britain out of the European Union — has again topped the poll, taking more votes than the next two candidates combined.
Of the final four, the votes were:
Boris Johnson – 157 (+14)
Michael Gove – 61 (+10)
Jeremy Hunt – 59 (+5)
Sajid Javid – 34 (-4) – eliminated
Votes cast – 313
Spoilt ballots 2
It is now all but certain that Boris Johnson will come first, given he now has over half of the support of the whole parliamentary Conservative party. The remaining campaign teams will now scrabble to court the 34 supporters of Sajid Javid who can lend their vote to a new campaign.
Truly humbled by the support I have received from colleagues and Conservatives around the country. We ran to win, but I am incredibly proud of the race we have run together – #TeamSaj! Thank you pic.twitter.com/wxqWK2wzJu
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) June 20, 2019
The ascent of Gove to second place ahead of Jeremy Hunt was treated with surprise in the Westminster bubble Wednesday. The change comes shortly after the British establishment’s newspaper of choice The Times appeared to throw its weight behind Gove, devoting front-page coverage to his campaign and publishing an opinion piece under his own name. Mr Gove was an editor at The Times before he entered politics.
The change will not be welcomed by Boris Johnson’s campaign, who it is reported would prefer Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to be the final challenger, as he is perceived as an easier candidate to beat. The last time Johnson and Gove stood against one another for the Conservative leadership was 2016, where they ended up effectively knocking each other out of the race, allowing Theresa May to become Prime Minister.
Britain’s Sky News reports that Boris Johnson’s team, which is well ahead of its rivals in terms of votes presently, may even consider instructing its followers to switch their votes to Hunt for the next round, to ensure he becomes the second place candidate.
While Johnson has presented himself as a hard Brexiteer since the referendum and for this leadership race, there have been some doubts about his sincerity over believing in Brexit. While his alleged wobble over whether to back Brexit or not in the 2016 referendum is now well known, the fresh support Johnson received today from the remain-backing Evening Standard newspaper will cause further concern.
Delingpole: Channel 4’s Rigged Leadership Debate Had Two Winners – Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage https://t.co/nhuDv8jMTC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 17, 2019
Edited by former Chancellor George Osborne — the senior Tory who appeared to lead efforts in the referendum campaign to scare the voting public out of considering independence, what was then known as ‘Project Fear’ — the paper praised Johnson for being the best candidate to derail Brexit.
Noting he had credibility with pro-Brexit voters and members of Parliament, the editorial pondered that he was most likely to use that power to delay Brexit, pass a soft-Brexit deal through parliament, or even nullify the Brexit referendum with another. A second referendum is a favourite strategy for anti-Brexit politicians to cancel Brexit altogether, as some have admitted publicly.
This story is developing