UK: Boris Johnson to face Hunt in leadership final

LONDON (AA): Moving closer to 10 Downing Street, Britain’s former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has secured a final place on the Conservative leadership’s final ballot with the support of 162 Tory MPs.

In the final contest Johnson will face current Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who got the support of 77 colleagues, leaving the environment secretary close behind at 75 votes.

Johnson has consistently extended his lead by wide margins, and his campaign team has effectively been able to garner support from a majority of hard Brexit-supporting MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, who heads the Eurosceptic European Research Group.

Trailing Johnson is Hunt, whose support falls far short of Johnson’s, but whose lead over the other candidates has been fairly consistent and has been able to position himself as the only alternative to a Johnson premiership.

Former candidates — including leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsome, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid — were unable to defeat Johnson, whose popularity has soared amongst Tory MPs in recent weeks.

With the defeat of each candidate, more Tory MPs have been throwing their support to Johnson, shown by his rising share of the votes in each round, from 114 votes in the first to 162 votes in the fifth.

Johnson will now face Hunt in the final Tory leadership battle.

All 313 Conservative MPs voted in the secret ballot in the House of Commons, with one ballot paper reported spoiled. In the final round, the Tory membership will vote on the candidates, and the winner will be announced in the week starting July 22.

The leadership race was triggered after Theresa May’s resignation from the premiership on June 7 after repeatedly failing to secure enough votes for her Brexit deal in the House of Commons.