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Tory leadership election, MPs to vote as first ballots open

By Paul Francis

The election of a new Conservative leader begins today with the first of a series of ballots which will see the 10 candidates vying for the role whittled down to a final pair.

Kent MPs are divided over who they want to succeed Theresa May in the role and become the next Prime Minister, but favourite Boris Johnson has the support of at least four of our MPs.

Under the party’s rules, the candidate who has the fewest votes in today's ballot will automatically be eliminated but so too will be any who fail to secure at least 16 votes.

Scroll down for analysis of today's events

Business Secretary Greg Clark
Business Secretary Greg Clark

The latest declaration of an endorsement came from the Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who is the business minister.

He announced he was backing the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid were the last two to launch their campaigns yesterday.

Mr Johnson’s long-awaited entry to the race was noticeably restrained by his standards and he gave a sober assessment of the political landscape.

"Around the country there is a mood of disillusion, even despair at our ability to get things done," he said.

"The longer it goes on, the worse the risk of serious contamination and a real loss of confidence, because the people of this country deserve better from their leaders."

The outcome of today's ballot is due to be announced later this afternoon.

Another elimination round will take place next Tuesday.

In a separate development, MPs yesterday rejected an effort by Labour and Tory rebels to take control of Parliament's timetable, blocking the latest attempt to stop no-deal Brexit.

The Commons opposed the move by 309 votes to 298.

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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