Voting opens for knockout stage of Tory race with at least one MP set to go

The knockout stage of the Tory leadership race has kicked off with at least one contender set to be ruled out today.

Conservative MPs are holding their first ballot in the leadership contest from 10am today.

The official race to succeed Theresa May is on its fourth day and has already seen the list of hopefuls slashed to 10.

The candidates need to secure at least 17 votes to go through to the next round. Anyone below that will immediately be eliminated.

The candidate with the fewest backers will be axed.

Voting by all 313 Tory MPs will wrap up at noon with the results expected to be announced at 1pm today.

Hard Brexiteer Esther McVey and Mark Harper are currently predicted to be booted from the race.

Boris Johnson is still the frontrunner for the Tory crown and has had more than 80 public endorsements.

A survey by grass-roots Conservative Home put him on 53 per cent with Rory Stewart as a surprising second at 11 per cent.

Dominic Raab followed at 8 per cent, Michael Gove at 7 per cent and Jeremy Hunt at 6 per cent.

Mark Harper is at the bottom with. 0.6 per cent, Matt Hancock at 0.9 per cent, and Andrea Leadsom with 1.7 per cent.

In a pre-first parliamentary ballot calculation by Conservative Home, Harper, Stewart, McVey and Leadsom would all get under the required 17 votes.

The MP with the most votes will also be announced today, which will paint a clearer picture of who will remain to the end.

After today’s vote we will see whether the 75 undeclared Tory MPs support Johnson, another leading candidate or go all over the place.

The results will also indicate how badly last week’s cocaine confession have hit Gove’s support.

The next round of voting will take place next Tuesday where the contenders need to get 33 votes with balloting continuing until two candidates remain.

Voting is 100 per cent anonymous and even famous MPs have been told to bring ID to Parliament’s Committee Room 14 amid strict security measures.

The winner will be announced on Monday July 22.

Who is running to be prime minister?

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is pushing his campaign on Brexit (Picture: i-Images)

The leadership frontrunner said Britain must leave the EU by October 31, regardless of whether it had been able to negotiate a fresh deal with Brussels.

He insisted he did not want a no-deal but said it was essential that the Government prepared for that eventuality as a ‘last resort’.

He cited his record as mayor of London, when he combined policies promoting social justice with support for business and financial services.

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid wants the UK to prepare for a no deal but reckons he can get a deal through parliament (Picture: Reuters)

The Home secretary insisted he could change the image of the Tories across the country as he stressed his humble background as the son of an immigrant.

He said it was time to follow the Scottish Tories and ‘leave the short term comfort zone and throw out central casting’ by picking somebody different.

Mr Javid said the UK must prepare for a no deal, but insisted he could get an agreement through Parliament by October 31.

Branding Mr Johnson as ‘yesterday’s news’, Mr Javid said voters wanted to hear the Tories talk about more than Brexit

Michael Gove

Michael Gove wants to scrap VAT and have a lower and simpler sales tax (Picture: Getty)

One of the leaders of the Vote Leave campaign, he said Brexit was an ‘unashamedly personal’ matter for him, although he would be prepared to delay beyond October 31 if negotiations were making progress.

Following the disclosure he took cocaine before entering politics, he sought to get his campaign back on track, taunting his rival and sometime ally Boris Johnson for pulling out of the last leadership contest.

The Environment Secretary said he would scrap VAT and replace it with a lower and simpler sales tax.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is prepared to leave without a deal but may delay Brexit (Picture: PA)

The Foreign Secretary said he was a ‘serious leader’ for a ‘serious moment’ in the country’s history.

He warned the Tories would be ‘annihilated’ if they fought a general election without first delivering Brexit.

He said would be prepared to leave the EU without a deal, but signalled he could extend Brexit beyond October 31 if an agreement was in sight.

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force Brexit through (Picture: PA)

The former Brexit secretary said he was the ‘conviction Brexiteer’ with the ‘discipline and focus’ to get Britain out of the EU by October 31.

In what was seen as a sideswipe at Boris Johnson, he said ‘bluff and bluster’ would not deliver and refused to rule out suspending Parliament to get Brexit through.

On domestic policy, he said he would raise the employee’s national insurance threshold to ‘take the lowest paid out of payroll taxes altogether’.

Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock wants to go back to Brussels to talk about the Irish backstop (Picture: PA)

The Health Secretary said he had the ‘only credible plan’ for Brexit which could get through Parliament.

He said no deal was not possible as MPs would prevent it and that he would go back to Brussels to negotiate a time limit to the Northern Ireland backstop.

He promised to raise the national living wage to more than £10-an-hour.

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart attacked Boris in his bid to be the next PM (Picture: Wenn)

The International Development Secretary issued a vigorous warning against a no-deal Brexit, accusing proponents of peddling ‘fairy stories’.

He said that if MPs were unable agree a way forward he could appoint a ‘grand jury of citizens’ to sit for three weeks to come up with a solution.

His launch included a strong personal attack on Boris Johnson, questioning whether he was the right person to take charge of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom is among the bookies favourites to lose out today (Picture: PA)

The former leader of the House set out plans for a ‘managed exit’ from the EU, saying leaving by the October 31 deadline is a ‘hard red line’.

She dismissed claims Parliament would be able to block no deal, saying it was the ‘legal default position’.

On domestic policy, she said her priorities were building new homes, cutting crime, promoting business and delivering a carbon neutral economy.

Mark Harper

Mark Harper said he would bring a fresh approach to negotiations (Picture: PA)

A former chief whip under David Cameron, he described himself as the ‘serious underdog’ in the contest.

While he said he was prepared for no deal, he said it was not going to be possible to leave by October 31 – with or without a deal – as Parliament would not allow it.

As the only contender not to have served in government under Theresa May, he said he could offer a ‘fresh approach’ to the negotiations with Brussels.

Esther McVey

Esther McVey wants to deliver Brexit on October 31 then unite the country (Picture: PA)

The former work and pensions secretary said she had a ‘clear agenda’ to deliver Brexit on October 31 and then unite the country.

She promised a pay rise for the four million public sector workers whose efforts had helped get the economy ‘back on track’.

Ms McVey said she would also increase spending on the police and education while cutting back foreign aid to pre-2010 levels.

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