Boris Johnson has hurtled closer to becoming Britain’s next Prime Minister after winning the second round of voting in the Conservative Party leadership contest by a considerable margin.
Mr Johnson’s seemingly inexorable journey to victory saw him win 126 votes from Tory MPs.
Dominic Raab was knocked out of the competition after failing to secure the 33 votes required to proceed to the next round.
Rory Stewart, who began the race as a clear outsider, made it through after almost doubling his share of the vote.
Sajid Javid just made it past the second round after winning the minimum number of votes required.
Mr Johnson increased his share of the vote from 114 in the first round.
As he pulls further out in front, the real contest is now over who will join him in the final two.
Mr Raab had arguably the hardest stance on Brexit out of the contenders, and his supporters are likely to flock to another Eurosceptic candidate in the form of Michael Gove or Boris Johnson.
Andrea Jenkyns, a Brexiteer, says now Dominic Raab has been booted out she will vote for Boris Johnson.
The full results were -
Michael Gove: 41
Jeremy Hunt: 46
Sajid Javid: 33
Boris Johnson: 126
Dominic Raab: 30
Rory Stewart: 37
How did the candidates react?
Dominic Raab responded to his elimination by wishing the remaining candidates luck in the debate this evening.
I’m very proud of all the support I’ve had from colleagues in this leadership contest, and I’m immensely grateful to my terrific team.— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) June 18, 2019
Good luck to all the candidates debating tonight!
Immediately after the tallies were announced Mr Stewart tweeted thanks to his supporters.
And thank you for all the support - we seem to have almost doubled our vote again...more to come...#walkon— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 18, 2019
Michael Gove, who closed the gap on second-place candidate Jeremy Hunt by one vote, said: “Very pleased to have made it through and closed the gap to second.
“Looking forward to making my case at the BBC debate shortly. The final two should be Brexiteers who are able to take on Corbyn, unite the party and deliver Brexit.”
Sajid Javid said he was looking forward to tonight’s debate after scraping through.
Thank you for your support! Looking forward to tonight’s debate with my colleagues and @maitlis. I can lead a Conservative Party which connects with new audiences and creates opportunities for all. #TeamSaj— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) June 18, 2019
A spokesperson for Jeremy Hunt said: “This is a solid result. It shows a steady step forward, which is exactly what we were expecting. It confirms that Jeremy is the best placed candidate to take on Boris. He’s the only candidate who can unite the country and the party by delivering Brexit.”
Mr Johnson also thanked his supporters on Twitter.
The remaining five candidates will take part in a live debate on the BBC at 8pm this evening where rivals are expected to pile in on the frontrunner.
It is the first time Mr Johnson has taken part in a debate during the campaign after being accused of ducking scrutiny.
He failed to take part in a debate last week on Channel 4 and has refused to give interviews throughout the leadership contest.
Rivals have accused Mr Johnson of making conflicting promises to different factions of the Conservative Party to win support.
Conservative voters will hold another round of voting tomorrow where the least popular candidate will be knocked out.
Tory MPs will continue to hold ballots until the candidates are whittled down to two.
If no one drops out of the race there will be a vote on Wednesday and two more on Thursday.
Conservative Party members will then vote on the final two, and the victor will become the leader of the party and the Prime Minister.