Monday 15 July 2019

Tory leadership race: Who are the hopefuls and what are their odds as frontrunner Boris Johnson stays out of fray

Six candidates jostle for right to go head-to-head in grassroots vote

The six remaining Conservative leadership contenders (clockwise from top left) Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid
The six remaining Conservative leadership contenders (clockwise from top left) Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid
Tory leadership battle: A man mocks Boris Johnson during a protest outside parliament in London. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Jennifer McKiernan

The race to become the new Tory leader, and British prime minister, is entering the final week of selection by MPs, with the field continuing to narrow.

Four of the six current riders will be forced out before the end of the week in a series of votes by their parliamentary colleagues, leaving the final two to go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots.

So what is the current state of play?

Boris Johnson

The first round of voting saw Mr Johnson sprinting far ahead of all his rivals, with 114 backers, and he remains the frontrunner with odds of 1/6 from bookies.

His betting odds have continued to rise despite criticism of his media-avoidance strategy, including refusing Sunday's debate on Channel 4 and another with Westminster lobby journalists yesterday.

The former foreign secretary has seven cabinet colleagues supporting him so far, including Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, attorney general Geoffrey Cox and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Former leadership rival Matt Hancock announced yesterday he would back Mr Johnson.

Morning run: Second-favourite candidate Jeremy Hunt. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images
Morning run: Second-favourite candidate Jeremy Hunt. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt

The foreign secretary secured 43 votes in the first round and is set to do well this week, with odds of 21/1.

A solid performance in his current job has benefited him, but Mr Hunt has come under fire for his stance on abortion.

Cabinet backers include Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Michael Gove

The environment secretary won 37 votes in the first round and has odds of 45/1.

He managed to weather a hypocrisy storm last weekend over his admission he took cocaine, despite writing about how he disagreed on loosening drugs laws.

Mr Gove has amassed support from four cabinet colleagues - Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Energy Minister Claire Perry and Commons leader Mel Stride.

Dominic Raab

The former Brexit secretary gained 27 votes in the first round of voting.

Controversial comments about being willing to prorogue parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit became a lightning rod for criticism by fellow candidates on Channel 4 on Sunday.

Mr Raab has odds of 109/1 and no Cabinet backers yet, with much of his support, including from hard Brexiteers apparently leaching away to Mr Johnson.

Sajid Javid

The home secretary won 23 votes from MPs in the first round and has odds of 129/1.

He is seen as a dark horse who could make a late surge due to his everyman credentials, being the only candidate not to have attended an Oxbridge university. He has three cabinet backers: Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright and Universities Minister Chris Skidmore.

Rory Stewart

The international development secretary squeaked through the initial rounds with 19 MPs backing him.

Another dark horse, although he started with odds of 100/1, he is now at a canter with odds of 12/1.

He has not shied away from confrontation, denouncing Mr Raab's desire to prorogue Parliament, and has won plaudits for a campaign where he has been speaking to the public in various parts of London.

He has one backer in Justice Secretary David Gauke.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The Conservative leadership contest will enter the next stage when a second round of voting is held in the UK Parliament.

Tory MPs will vote by secret ballot in the House of Commons.  The result is due to come in at around 6pm.

Any candidates coming last or failing to secure at least 33 votes will be eliminated from the race.

Those left in the contest will take part in a live BBC debate on Tuesday evening.

Further ballots are due later this week, where the bottom-ranked MP will be knocked out until only two candidates are left.

The final two names will then be put to a postal vote of the 160,000 Tory party members, beginning on 22 June. The winner is expected to be announced around four weeks later.

 

Irish Independent

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