Boris Johnson cements pole position to be next Prime Minister after topping first Tory leadership ballot

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Mr Johnson came out ahead in the crowded contest after winning more than a third of the votes

Boris Johnson has cemented his position as the clear favourite to become the next Prime Minister after overwhelmingly topping the first ballot in the Tory leadership contest.

Ten candidates became seven after Tory MPs voted on their future leader for the first time, with Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey all eliminated from the race to Number 10.

Mr Johnson came out ahead in the crowded contest after winning 114 votes, a third of the vote. He came 71 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Jeremy Hunt.

Michael Gove, whose campaign launch was marred by revelations that he took cocaine during his time as a Times journalist 20 years ago, came third with only six votes separating him and Mr Hunt.

‘Long way to go’

Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart all won enough votes to make it through to the next round of voting among Tory MPs, due to take place on Tuesday.

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Mr Johnson tweeted his delight at the result shortly after it was announced, saying: “Thank you to my friends and colleagues in the Conservative & Unionist Party for your support.

“I am delighted to win the first ballot, but we have a long way to go.”

Mr Johnson already has enough supporters to get through the threshold in the final round and be one of the last two contenders, which requires 105 votes.

All eyes will be on his number during Tuesday’s vote to see whether he can maintain the initial flow of support to keep a clear lead.

The former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London has been under fire from his rivals for keeping a relatively low profile during the initial weeks of the contest and refusing to take part in any broadcast interviews.

Once the list is narrowed down to two candidates – currently looking most likely to be Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt – the vote will go to all Tory members across the country.

Mr Hunt tweeted in the wake of the results: “Delighted to come second today. We face a crucial choice: who can negotiate some better choices than the bad ones we face.

“The stakes have rarely been higher for our country. This serious moment calls for a serious leader.”

Mr Johnson has led his campaign on the basis he believes the UK should leave the EU on the 31 October with a no-deal Brexit if need be.

He could face problems later on in the race if the more moderate Brexit supporters, who are against leaving without a deal, united in favour of a softer Brexit candidate.

The results were as follows:

  1. Boris Johnson – 114 votes
  2. Jeremy Hunt – 43 votes
  3. Michael Gove – 37 votes
  4. Dominic Raab – 27 votes
  5. Sajid Javid – 23 votes
  6. Matt Hancock – 20 votes
  7. Rory Stewart – 19 votes
  8. Andrea Leadsom – 11 votes: out
  9. Mark Harper – 10 votes: out
  10. Esther McVey – 9 votes: out 

The next round of voting will take place on Tuesday 18 June, with contenders needing 33 votes to stay in the contest.

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