Boris Johnson has overwhelmingly topped the first ballot in the Tory leadership contest, putting him in pole position to be the next prime minister, as three rivals saw their dreams of entering Number 10 dashed.
The first round of voting by Conservative MPs saw the crowded field in the race to replace Theresa May whittled down, with Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey falling at the first hurdle.
Leadership hopefuls needed at least 17 votes in the secret ballot to go through to the second round, with anyone below that threshold automatically eliminated.
Watch: who is left now in the leadership race?
Dominic Raab got 27 votes – putting him behind Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.
Ms Rudd urged all the candidates to take part in televised debates, saying: “I want them all to do the TV debates.
“Jeremy has said he wants to participate, he’s still in negotiations, but the key thing is that all the candidates get out to TV debates.
“I keep on saying the fact is the Conservative Party needs to remember that we’re not just choosing a leader, we’re choosing a prime minister and the public need to see them.
“I think they’ve got a duty to do it – to be publicly interrogated.”
She said Mr Hunt needed to be seeking votes from everybody for the next round and that the result was “about what we expected” – “I was pleased that he came a clear second”.
Jeremy Hunt backer Amber Rudd told reporters: “He’s got to make the case that he’s the right candidate to bring the party together.”
And then there were seven…
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is supporting Jeremy Hunt’s campaign, told the Press Association: “I think he’s attractive to many sides of the party because he’s a serious individual.
“But he’s also, I think, set out a clear and realistic plan for how we’re going to get the best Brexit possible for the country because we don’t just have to do this, we have to do it really well, and that’s why he’s got my support.”
The result was announced just after 1pm:
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who received 27 votes, said: “I’m proud and honoured to have the support of so many brilliant colleagues today.
“This campaign is just getting started and we’ve got a good base to build on.
“I’m the change candidate who can be trusted to deliver Brexit by October and has the vision and energy to take Britain forward, and beat Jeremy Corbyn.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke said Rory Stewart was now the main challenger to Boris Johnson, stating: “He’s really in with a chance and the momentum is with Rory.
“He’s causing a stir. He’s the one that looks like he can provide the real challenge to Boris.
“We have got an opportunity now to have a debate about the future of the Conservative Party.
“There’s Boris’s vision and the contrast is provided by Rory Stewart.”
A source close to frontrunner Boris Johnson said: “We are pleased with the result and obviously there’s still a long way to go in the contest.”
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said he was “absolutely over the moon” to have secured just enough votes to survive the first ballot.
He told the Press Association: “Remember, I had six declared votes and I have more than tripled that, so I’m really really happy and candidates who started that contest with four times the number of declared votes as me are now almost level pegging with me.
“This is now neck and neck going into the next round and for somebody who passionately believes that politics is about listening and who made a difficult decision to start this campaign not in this place but outside listening to people, I feel really inspired and encouraged and desperate to do more for the people who are supporting me out there.”
He said it was a “very open race” to enter the final two alongside Boris Johnson and that he would be reaching out to “every single colleague” ahead of the next round.
“I’m going to have to now say to those who are neck and neck with me, I’m afraid this is the time to be serious.”
Esther McVey, who secured just nine votes and was eliminated from the contest, said: “I am extremely grateful to those people who voted for me in this election and to the fantastic team who have supported my campaign.
“I am pleased to have had a platform to make the case for blue collar conservatism, a clean break from the EU and the need to invest money into schools, policing and a proper pay rise for our public sector workers.
“I will speak to the remaining candidates to see who is best placed to deliver on that programme.
“I wish the remaining candidates well and I hope that all Conservative MPs will unite behind whoever wins this contest which is essential to prevent the disaster of a Marxist government.
“Whoever becomes the new leader will certainly receive my support.”
Boris Johnson, who led the poll with 114 votes, tweeted: “Thank you to my friends and colleagues in the Conservative & Unionist Party for your support. I am delighted to win the first ballot, but we have a long way to go.”
Here are the results of the first round of voting in the Tory leadership race:
– Michael Gove: 37 votes
– Matt Hancock: 20 votes
– Mark Harper: 10 votes
– Jeremy Hunt: 43 votes
– Sajid Javid: 23 votes
– Boris Johnson: 114 votes
– Andrea Leadsom: 11 votes
– Esther McVey: 9 votes
– Dominic Raab: 27 votes
– Rory Stewart: 19 votes
Boris Johnson has topped the ballot in the first round of voting in the Tory leadership race, with Mark Harper, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom eliminated from the contest.
Chris Grayling has warned his party that it needs to deliver on Brexit or risk losing power to Labour.
He said: “The lesson of the Peterborough by-election is if we do not deliver Brexit, we are opening the door of Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn.
“The one message I get consistently from the business community is that whilst they may be concerned about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, that pales to insignificance by comparison with how concerned they are about what a Jeremy Corbyn government will do to our economy.”
Responding to Sajid Javid’s comment that fellow Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson was “yesterday’s news”, Mr Grayling said: “I am convinced that the man who reaches the parts that perhaps not every candidate can reach when it comes to winning elections, as he proved in London, that Boris is the man to take us forward right now.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed he had voted for Boris Johnson in the first round.
Mr Grayling said the former foreign secretary was an “integral part” of the Leave campaign and was the “right man to take us through the Brexit process to sort this out”.
He added: “He is also somebody who is internationalist, he is somebody who believes we should leave as good friends and neighbours.
“As you heard at the launch yesterday, he is somebody who says ‘I want to leave with a deal, I want to leave on good terms’, that’s the right thing.”
Mr Grayling said the UK had to continue to prepare for a no-deal Brexit and be willing to leave in October if “we haven’t reached that good partnership for the future”.
Earlier on Thursday, Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin warned that Parliament may have run out of options to block a no-deal Brexit by the next prime minister.
The Commons voted on Wednesday to reject a Labour motion, backed by other opposition parties, which would have enabled MPs to take control of the business of the House with a view to preventing a no-deal.
Sir Oliver, who was behind a series of cross-party attempts to block a no-deal, said there may be no more opportunities for Parliament to intervene.
The odds looked like this on Wednesday:
Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey told the Press Association: “I’m the outsider, I know that.” Asked who she would urge her supporters to back if she is eliminated, she said: “I’m not answering that yet.”
Other candidates in the race include International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.
Andrea Leadsom, who is among the 10 candidates, said she was feeling “very positive and optimistic and hopeful that I will be getting enough support from colleagues to go through to the next round”.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he had voted for the “best candidate”.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is backing front-runner Boris Johnson for the top job, warned that more than one candidate could be knocked out.
He told the Press Association: “Mark Harper doesn’t seem in a very strong position.
“The bottom one goes and anyone under 5% goes. So, it could be more than one who’s knocked out.”