Scotland politics

Tory leadership: Ruth Davidson apologises for Michael Gove 'kiss of death'

Ruth Davidson and Michael Gove Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Davidson said Mr Gove was the "next best person for the country" after Sajid Javid was eliminated from the contest

Ruth Davidson's top two choices to become the next PM have been eliminated from the race on the same day.

The Scottish Conservative leader had initially backed Sajid Javid, who was voted out on Thursday morning.

She then said she was backing Michael Gove as the "next best person" for the job.

But he failed to make the final two after finishing behind Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in a further vote just hours later.

Immediately after the result was announced, Ms Davidson tweeted an apology to Mr Gove for giving him the "kiss of death".

She has been a fierce critic of Mr Johnson in the past but has not yet said who, if anyone, she will now be backing in the contest.

Mr Gove was supported by 75 Conservative MPs - just two votes short of Mr Hunt's 77. Mr Johnson, who is seen as being the favourite in the race, was backed by 160 Tory MPs.

Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt will now compete in a run-off of the party's 160,000 or so members, with the winner due to be announced in the week of 22 July.

All 313 Conservative MPs voted - with one spoiled ballot recorded.

Ms Davidson did not have a vote on Thursday but six of her 13 MPs, including Scottish Secretary David Mundell, were expected to vote for Mr Gove, with a further four due to back Mr Johnson and one supporting Mr Hunt.

She introduced Mr Javid when he launched his campaign earlier this month, and had described him as a "committed Unionist" who had the vision to bring the country back together.

Ms Davidson told BBC Scotland on Thursday that she was "very sad" to see Mr Javid eliminated - but that Mr Gove, the UK environment secretary, was "the next best person for our country".

She said Mr Gove, who was born and brought up in Scotland, had a "detailed knowledge" of Scottish issues such as fishing and farming, and how they would be affected by Brexit.

And she said he was "incredibly smart and articulate" and the candidate who could "do the job best" and "deliver for the people of Scotland".

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