Rory Stewart eliminated in third round of Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

But Michael Gove is now hot on Hunt's heels having increased by ten to 51 and, looking at the rate of growth in his support base, it is entirely possible that he will outpace Jeremy Hunt in the end.

A Gove campaign source said: "We are in it to win it and we would obviously welcome the support of any candidate that wanted to drop out and support us".

"Mr Raab had 30 votes, and pledged his support for Mr Johnson (pictured right leaving his London home today) saying he was the 'only man to deliver Brexit on time".

While Jeremy Hunt, who is still in second place - just - adds eight to his score to take him to 54. Raab endorsed Johnson on Wednesday morning.

As the candidate who now has the fewest number of backers, there are rumours Sajid Javid could drop out, but supporter Stephen Crabb told Newsnight his favoured candidate had performed well in the debates and was not about to quit.

Stewart's surge - moving past Javid and Raab after the first vote - was a surprise.

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As the candidate who now has the fewest number of backers, there are rumours Mr Javid could drop out, but supporter Stephen Crabb told the BBC his favoured candidate had performed well in the debates and was not about to quit.

"But any team that combines, Rory wants to lead it", the spokeswoman said.

It is understood Hunt does not expect to advance his tally of votes much beyond his current total. However Stewart said he felt his performance in the BBC One hustings had been underwhelming and he had not challenged Johnson as effectively as he had hoped. However, when comparing their messages several MPs found some messages had praised the recipient's "intellect" while others had not.

The prospective leaders will then face postal vote by all party members before the victor is announced in the week starting Monday, July 22. Unlike previous rounds, candidates do not have to gain a specific number of votes but the candidate with the fewest supporters will be eliminated.

The surviving candidates will face further votes until just two are left - who will then be put to Tory party members to choose between.

The latest headline suggests that we could see a combined effort by the remaining candidates in order to try and topple Boris in the final ballot but given the amount of backing Boris has at the amount, it's still a monumental task.

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