Boris Johnson tops first Tory leadership contest ballot

Boris Johnson receives the support of 114 MPs in the first round, outstripping his closest rival Jeremy Hunt who got 43 votes

Boris Johnson could be the next UK prime minister
Boris Johnson could be the next UK prime minister

Boris Johnson has secured the highest number of votes in the first ballot to select the Conservative Party leader and next British prime minister.

Three contenders, Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey, have been knocked out, in the secret ballot held in the House of Commons on Thursday. 

Johnson received 114 votes, Jeremy Hunt was second with 43, and Michael Gove third with 37 votes.

Seven candidates progress to the next round of voting next week.

The two most popular MPs will be put to Tory party members in a final vote later this month.

The winner of the contest to succeed Theresa May is expected to be announced in the week of 22 July.

Johnson said he was "delighted to win the first ballot, but we have a long way to go".

Hancock thanked his supporters, saying it was "terrific to have more votes from colleagues than I could have hoped for".

And a spokesperson for Michael Gove's campaign said, "Everyone had written us off. People said we were going backwards. But we gained support and are in touching distance of second. It's all to play for."

Rory Stewart told the BBC's Politics Live he was "completely over the moon" to have got through the first vote. He said he only had six declared votes ahead of the poll, but "more than three times that" voted for him in the secret ballot.

Esther McVey said she was "extremely grateful" to those who had voted for her in the ballot.

Subsequent ballots are scheduled to take place on 18, 19 and 20 June to whittle down the contenders until only two are left.

The final pair will then be put to a vote of members of the wider Conservative Party from 22 June, with the winner expected to be announced about four weeks later.

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