Clarke Tops Tory Poll Again
The results of the second-round ballot for the Tory leadership were announced earlier this evening. Here are the scores for the three candidates:
Since none of the candidates received sufficient votes to secure victory, there will be a third ballot on Thursday. Because he received the smallest number of votes, John Redwood has been forced out of the race.
Mr Redwood's supporters will meet tonight to discuss which of the candidates to back.
Mr Clarke said he was "delighted" by the result of the poll.
"I am the first choice of Conservative MPs and I have the overwhelming
support of both the general public and Conservative Party members," he said in
"The Conservative Party now faces a clear choice. I hope the Conservative
Party will unite round me to fight Labour. I will put together a broad-based team drawing on every strand of opinion within the party. Under my leadership the Conservative Party will quickly be able to take on
the Labour Party and go on to win the next election." he said.
Just after the result, William Hague spoke to reporters outside Parliament.
Mr Redwood is still refusing to say which of the two surviving
contenders he would back in the third ballot. Mr Hague as a fellow right winger and Euro-sceptic might have been expected to
pick up the votes of Mr Redwood and the majority of his supporters. But many in the Redwood camp are still making up their mind which way
to go on Thursday, wavering between Mr Clarke as the "big hitter" and the more
ideologically congenial Mr Hague.
Mr Clarke now needs to win the votes of exactly half Mr Redwood's 38
supporters if he is to gain the 83 votes needed for outright victory on
Our Political Editor Robin Oakley Writes
William Hague remains favourite to win. He has momentum. He has closed
the gap on Kenneth Clarke in the constituencies. He has won more ex-ministers
to his cause and he put on more votes in the second round of the contest than
his rival. The 38 votes freed up by the elimination of John Redwood are mostly
those of right wing Euro-sceptics, in theory more likely to vote for him.
Kenneth Clarke is still in the lead as in every test of opinion so far. His
experience is far superior. He has popular support in the country and Tory MPs
of all hues acknowledge his qualities as a 'big hitter'. So there is a real
contest still, with some Redwoodites indicating they will transfer to Mr
Clarke. Mr Clarke is benefiting from showing himself readier than Mr Hague to
accommodate those of differing views. Mr Hague has alienated some centrists by
saying he won't take into his shadow cabinet anyone who won't oppose a single
currency. He may be forced to rethink now about a formula which would exclude
the man who is still leading the contest, and by implication his 64
What the Bookies Say
Ladbrokes are quoting Mr Hague as 1-2 favourite, with Mr Clarke at 11-8.