UK Politics

Tory leadership: Candidates await result of second vote of MPs

Tory leadership candidates Image copyright AFP/ Getty Images

The six contenders to be the next Tory leader and prime minister are awaiting the result of the second ballot of MPs, which is due to be announced shortly.

Any of the candidates will drop out of the contest if they come last or fail to secure at least 33 votes.

Those remaining in the race will take part in a live BBC debate in central London from 20:00 BST.

Boris Johnson led the first vote, ahead of Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart.

The surviving candidates will face further ballots later this week, where the bottom-ranked MP will be knocked out until only two are left.

The final two names will then be put to a postal vote of the 160,000 Tory party members, beginning on 22 June, with the winner expected to be announced about four weeks later.

Voting in the second ballot ended at 17.00 BST, with all 313 Conservative MPs expected to have taken part. All the contenders cast their ballots in the first hour of voting.

Mr Johnson, the former foreign secretary and Mayor of London, remains the man to beat in the race after topping the first ballot earlier this month with 114 votes.

The BBC's chief political correspondent Vicki Young said there were "a lot of nerves around" although the "one certainty" in Tuesday's poll was that Mr Johnson would again finish top.

Former cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom - who was knocked out in the first round - has given him her support as have ex-ministers Tracey Crouch and Damian Green, who switched from Matt Hancock after he withdrew last week.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson is hoping to maintain or extend his lead in the second ballot
Image copyright PA
Image caption While Sajid Javid is among those seeking to stay in the contest

Current Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt, who came second with 43 votes, and Environment Secretary Mr Gove, who was third with 37, in the first round should make it through to the next ballot on Wednesday if their support holds firm.

Mr Raab, who received 27 votes, and Home Secretary Mr Javid, who received 23, told reporters on Monday they were confident of making it through to the next round.

International Development Secretary Mr Stewart, who received 19 votes in the first ballot, said he had the necessary 33 backers to stay in the race "if they do what they say".

How can you watch the debate tonight?

Our Next Prime Minister will be hosted by BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and broadcast on BBC One at 20:00 BST.

You can also follow the debate on our live page on the BBC News website.

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Media captionPolitical Correspondent Nick Eardley on set ahead of the debate

Alternatively, you can stream the debate online through BBC Sounds or by watching BBC One and the News Channel through iPlayer.

From 21:00 BST, the BBC News Channel will be broadcasting reaction to the debate from politicians and pundits.

The debate will be also be broadcast live on Radio 4.

Deals and counter-deals?

Until 18.00 BST, much of Westminster will be preoccupied with counting the number of hypothetical votes that are going to each one of the aspiring prime ministers.

Scurrilous whispers are whizzing round about deals and counter-deals.

There are suggestions that some of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson's declared backers are secretly reaching out to Rory Stewart and gently wondering about potential jobs.

Conspiracists suggest that Boris Johnson's team are ordering some of their supporters to vote today for Jeremy Hunt to ensure he faces what they see as a vanilla politician in the final two.

Lots of politicians love nothing more than campaigning and hustling for votes, and what could be more fun for them when they don't even have to bang on doors in the rain to do so but can plot happily in the tea rooms of Westminster?

Whoever ultimately wins through to the next round, however, will soon have to count a different set of numbers - those in Parliament.

Read more from Laura.

Mr Stewart, who is currently sixth-placed among the remaining contenders, received a boost to his campaign on Monday evening with the endorsement of Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.

Mr Lidington, who previously backed Mr Hancock, told a rally for Mr Stewart there was a "yearning in this country for political leaders who tell it straight to people".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Stewart claimed the majority of Mr Hancock's supporters were now backing him.

He added that Mr Lidington's backing was important as it was a "vote of confidence in somebody he feels could run a cabinet and be prime minister".

When asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme if he had been a spy, Mr Stewart replied: "I would definitely say I served my country. If someone asked me if I was a spy I would say no."

Compare the candidates' policies

Select a topic...

...and a candidate

Brexit

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to leave with a deal, but says he would back a no-deal Brexit with "a heavy heart" if necessary. - Will create a new negotiating team to produce an "alternative exit deal" to Theresa May’s plan, and engage with EU leaders over August. - Will present a provisional no-deal Brexit budget in early September and decide by the end of the month if there is a "realistic chance" of a new deal. - If not, will abandon talks and focus on no deal preparations. - Pledges to cover the cost of tariffs imposed on the exports of the farming and fishing industries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Vows to leave the EU by the 31 October deadline "come what may", but claims the chance of a no-deal Brexit is a "million to one". - Wants to negotiate a new deal, which will include replacing the Irish backstop with alternative arrangements. - Will not hand over the £39bn divorce settlement with the EU until the UK gets a new deal. - If a new deal is not agreed, will ask the EU for a "standstill period" to negotiate a free trade deal. - Argues a provision under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT 24, could be used for the UK to avoid tariffs for the next 10 years, but admits it would need EU sign off. - Promises to support the rural community in a no-deal Brexit scenario with "price support" and "efficiency payments".

Immigration

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Calls for flexibility on immigration, saying skilled workers should be prioritised. - Wants to review policy of stopping migrants with less than £30,000 coming to the UK to work. - Pledges to scrap the target to reduce net migration to below 100,000.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants a new Australian-style points-based system, considering factors such as whether an immigrant has a firm job offer and their ability to speak English. - Will get Migration Advisory Committee to examine the plan. - Wants to block the ability for immigrants to claim benefits immediately after the arrive in the UK. - Opposes the net migration target of under 100,000 a year.

Tax

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into "the next Silicon Valley... a hub of innovation". - Wants to cut corporation tax to 12.5%. - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying National Insurance to at least £12,000 a year. - Pledges to scrap business rates for 90% of high street shops. - Will increase the tax-free annual investment allowance from £1m to £5m.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges to raise the tax threshold for the higher rate to £80,000 (rather than the current £50,000). - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying income tax. - Will review “unhealthy food taxes” such as sugar tax on soft drinks.

Spending

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to increase defence spending by £15bn over the next five years. - Promises to keep free TV licenses for the over-75s. - Wants to build 1.5 million homes and create a “right to own” scheme for young people. - Backs both HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges more money for public sector workers and wants to increase the National Living Wage. - Will “find the money” to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers by 2022. - Promises to maintain spending 0.7% of GDP on Foreign Aid. - Wants to review the HS2 train project. - Pledges full fibre broadband in every home by 2025.

Health and social care

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Promises more funding for social care. - Wants to introduce an opt out insurance system to fund future care, similar to the way pensions work. - Wants to target manufacturers of unhealthy foods to make them cut the sugar content. - Mental health support to be offered in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Rules out a pay-for-access NHS, saying it would remain "free to everybody at the point of use" under his leadership. - Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS. - Plans to give public sector workers a "fair" pay rise, according to supporter Health Secretary Matt Hancock. - Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party "national consensus".

Education

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Pledges to write off tuition fees for young entrepreneurs who start a new business and employ more than 10 people for five years. - Wants to reduce interest rates on student debt repayments. - Long-term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession. - Wants to abolish illiteracy.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants to raise per-pupil spending in primary and secondary schools, with a minimum of £5,000 for each student in the latter. - Wants to look at lowering the interest rate on student debts.

Mr Javid said Mr Johnson was certain to be one of the final two candidates and warned his colleagues that the race could end up looking like "a debate of the Oxford Union" - a debating society at Oxford University.

He told the Today programme he brought his own background to the job "so different and in sharp contrast to Boris".

Speaking about his rival Mr Stewart, he said a new leader had to "properly believe in Brexit, rather than trying to reverse the decision".

Mr Johnson has agreed to take part in the BBC TV debate, after missing a debate on Sunday night hosted by Channel 4.

His low media visibility in the campaign has attracted criticism from his rivals and their supporters.

However, he picked up another cabinet endorsement on Monday, when Mr Hancock backed him as "the best candidate to unite the Conservative Party".