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Boris Johnson tops poll in first round of Conservative leadership contest

The results of the first round of votes for the next leader of the Conservative party has seen three of the ten candidates eliminated but a smooth passage into the second round for the heavily-tipped favourite Boris Johnson.

Candidates needed 16 votes to keep them in the race but that threshold could not be met by Esther McVey, Angela Leadsom and Mark Harper.

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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

The number of votes each candidate secured was as follows:

  • Boris Johnson: 114
  • Jeremy Hunt: 43
  • Dominic Raab: 27
  • Michael Gove: 37
  • Sajid Javid: 23
  • Matt Hancock: 20
  • Rory Stewart: 19
  • Angela Leadsom: 11
  • Mark Harper: 10
  • Esther McVey: 9

There were contrasting views from Kent MPs who had backed different candidates, with Dover MP Charlie Elphicke - a supporter of Boris Johnson - hailing the result on Twitter as 'incredible.'

Kent MP Tracey Crouch, who seconded Matt Hancock's nomination, tweeted:

Under the party rules for the election of a new leader, there will now be a second ballot next Tuesday, when the remaining seven candidates will need to secure 32 votes to stay in the race. This will then be followed by further ballots until there are just two.

There will then be a vote involving 110,000 party members to decide which of the final two should be the leader, with a result expected in the week beginning July 22.

WATCH: Do you think Boris is the right frontrunner?

Boris Johnson has been backed by at least four Kent MPs: Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet); Sir Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks); Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) and Charlie Elphicke (Dover).

Dominic Raab, who is seen as a firm Brexiteer and was Brexit minister until he quit over Theresa May’s deal, has endorsements from Gillingham MP Rehman Chishti and Maidstone and Weald MP Helen Grant and Dartford MP Gareth Johnson.

Damian Green (Ashford) has backed Matt Hancock, currently Secretary of State for Health, as has Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch.

Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) and Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) are backing Jeremy Hunt while Michael Gove has the backing of Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat.

ANALYSIS

On the strength of the first round result, it looks on the surface as though Boris Johnson is a shoe-in for the job of party leader and Prime Minister.

He exceeded the speculation that he’d get between 80 and 100 votes from MPs, topping the poll with 114 votes. The immediate sense is that he is an unstoppable express train heading for the destination of Downing Street.

The issue for the other remaining candidates is whether there is among them one who can draw enough supporters to give Boris a run for his money.

Those discussions - or horse-trading - will take on more urgency ahead of the next round on Tuesday.

The second-placed Jeremy Hunt did not poll as well as expected while Michael Gove performed better than some thought he would after his campaign got off to a dreadful start after his admission that he had taken cocaine.

With seven still in the race, the contest is not yet a foregone conclusion but it could be over sooner rather than later if rival candidates can’t agree a ‘stop Boris’ challenger. As things stand, it looks like the conventional wisdom that the candidate who starts out as favourite usually loses might be turned on its head.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.

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