Michael Gove has emerged as Boris Johnson’s main rival for the Tory leadership after the latest round of voting by MPs.
The Environment Secretary overtook Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to finish second in the fourth round of voting, as Boris Johnson extended his lead in the race to become the next prime minister.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid was eliminated from the race and a final round of voting will now decide the final two candidates who will go to a ballot of Tory members.
Mr Johnson secured 157 votes from the 313 Tory MPs and appears certain of victory in the final ballot, unless he loses support.
He said he was “delighted to have the support of over half of all Conservative MPs in the fourth ballot”.
“I am incredibly grateful, but we have much more work to do,” he said.
Mr Gove secured 61 votes, up 10 from the previous vote, while Mr Hunt was on 59, up five.
Mr Hunt had been second in each of the three previous rounds of voting.
A source in Mr Gove’s campaign said: “This is a great result. We are in a strong position to make the final two where we can have a civilised debate in the country.”
Mr Javid was eliminated with 34 votes, four fewer than he secured on Wednesday, and there were two spoiled ballots.