UK Politics

Boris Johnson tops first ballot in Tory leadership contest

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Media captionCheryl Gillan announces the result with seven of the 10 candidates making it to round two

Boris Johnson has secured the highest number of votes in the first MPs' ballot to select the Conservative Party leader and next prime minister.

Three contenders - Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey - were knocked out in the secret ballot of Tory MPs.

Mr Johnson received 114 votes, significantly more than his nearest rival Jeremy Hunt, who came second with 43. Michael Gove was third with 37.

Seven candidates progress to the next round of voting next week.

The two who prove most popular after the last MPs' ballot will go to Conservative Party members in a final vote later this month.

The winner of the contest to succeed Theresa May is expected to be announced in the week of 22 July.

Sources close to Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg he was "mulling over" whether to withdraw from the contest after coming sixth with 20 votes.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who came fifth with 23 votes, is understood to be staying in the race for now. Some have suggested his candidacy - with support from Mr Hancock - could take on Mr Hunt to become second in the ballot.

Mr Johnson, a former foreign secretary who served for eight years as London mayor, said he was "delighted" to win but warned that his campaign still had "a long way to go".

Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said: "Boris did well today but what the result shows is, when it comes to the members' stage, I'm the man to take him on."

Environment Secretary Mr Gove said it was "all to play for" and he was "very much looking forward" to candidates' TV debates on Channel 4 on Sunday and on BBC One next Tuesday.

All 313 Conservative MPs voted in the first ballot, including Mrs May, who refused to say whom she had backed.

The fourth-placed candidate, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, said he was "proud and honoured" and he had a "good base to build on".

Mr Javid said: "I look forward to continuing to share my positive vision and my plan for uniting the country."

Mr Hancock thanked his supporters, saying it was "terrific to have more votes from colleagues than I could have hoped for".

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Media captionRory Stewart said: "I don't look anything like the previous PM", and he negotiates "in a completely different way"

And International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, the seventh-placed candidate, told the BBC's Politics Live he was "completely over the Moon" to have got through the first vote.

He said he had had only six declared votes ahead of the poll, but "more than three times that" had voted for him in the secret ballot.

The margin of success took his fellow candidates by surprise - but not the core of Boris Johnson's team.

After many, many weeks of private campaigning, introducing Boris Johnson to the world of the spreadsheet, this morning one of his organisers wrote the number 114 and sealed it in an envelope.

At lunchtime, the announcement revealed the controversial former foreign secretary had indeed received exactly that number.

That is not just a marker of the level of Mr Johnson's support but for the sometimes clownish politician, whose reputation has risen and fallen and then risen again, it's a sign that it is different this time.

Read more from Laura

Justice Secretary David Gauke said Mr Stewart was now the main challenger to Mr Johnson, saying: "He's really in with a chance and the momentum is with Rory."

But Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who is supporting Mr Hunt's campaign, said the foreign secretary was "attractive to many sides of the party because he's a serious individual".

And schools minister Nick Gibb told BBC Radio 4's World at One that Mr Gove was now "best placed as a Brexiteer to challenge the front runner" Mr Johnson in the final.

The UK's next prime minister

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Further ballots are scheduled to take place on 18, 19 and 20 June to whittle down the contenders until only two are left.

The final pair will then be put to a vote of members of the wider Conservative Party from 22 June, with the winner expected to be announced about four weeks later.

After being knocked out of the contest, Mr Harper, a former government chief whip, said he continued "to believe we need a credible plan that delivers Brexit" in order to "restore trust".

Mrs Leadsom's campaign team said they were "disappointed" but "wish all the other candidates well".

And Ms McVey, who gained nine votes, coming last in the first round of MPs' ballots, said she was "extremely grateful" to those who had supported her.

TV debates 'important'

Televised candidates' debates are scheduled to take place, but not all the remaining seven have confirmed they are taking part.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who is backing Mr Hunt, urged them to appear, saying 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".

And former Brexit secretary David Davis, who is backing Mr Raab, said it was "very important" for the public to hear from the contenders.

Mr Johnson has previously been criticised by some of his rivals for not taking part in media interviews during the campaign.

The leadership race has so far been dominated by Brexit and arguments over whether a deal can be renegotiated with the EU by 31 October, and whether talking up a no-deal Brexit is a plausible promise.

Compare the candidates' policies

Select a topic...

...and a candidate

Brexit

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to leave with a deal, but says he would back a no-deal Brexit with "a heavy heart" if necessary. - Will create a new negotiating team to produce an "alternative exit deal" to Theresa May’s plan, and engage with EU leaders over August. - Will present a provisional no-deal Brexit budget in early September and decide by the end of the month if there is a "realistic chance" of a new deal. - If not, will abandon talks and focus on no deal preparations. - Pledges to cover the cost of tariffs imposed on the exports of the farming and fishing industries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Vows to leave the EU by the 31 October deadline "come what may", but claims the chance of a no-deal Brexit is a "million to one". - Wants to negotiate a new deal, which will include replacing the Irish backstop with alternative arrangements. - Will not hand over the £39bn divorce settlement with the EU until the UK gets a new deal. - If a new deal is not agreed, will ask the EU for a "standstill period" to negotiate a free trade deal. - Argues a provision under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT 24, could be used for the UK to avoid tariffs for the next 10 years, but admits it would need EU sign off. - Promises to support the rural community in a no-deal Brexit scenario with "price support" and "efficiency payments".

Immigration

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Calls for flexibility on immigration, saying skilled workers should be prioritised. - Wants to review policy of stopping migrants with less than £30,000 coming to the UK to work. - Pledges to scrap the target to reduce net migration to below 100,000.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants a new Australian-style points-based system, considering factors such as whether an immigrant has a firm job offer and their ability to speak English. - Will get Migration Advisory Committee to examine the plan. - Wants to block the ability for immigrants to claim benefits immediately after the arrive in the UK. - Opposes the net migration target of under 100,000 a year.

Tax

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into "the next Silicon Valley... a hub of innovation". - Wants to cut corporation tax to 12.5%. - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying National Insurance to at least £12,000 a year. - Pledges to scrap business rates for 90% of high street shops. - Will increase the tax-free annual investment allowance from £1m to £5m.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges to raise the tax threshold for the higher rate to £80,000 (rather than the current £50,000). - Wants to raise the point at which workers start paying income tax. - Will review “unhealthy food taxes” such as sugar tax on soft drinks.

Spending

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Wants to increase defence spending by £15bn over the next five years. - Promises to keep free TV licenses for the over-75s. - Wants to build 1.5 million homes and create a “right to own” scheme for young people. - Backs both HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Pledges more money for public sector workers and wants to increase the National Living Wage. - Will “find the money” to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers by 2022. - Promises to maintain spending 0.7% of GDP on Foreign Aid. - Wants to review the HS2 train project. - Pledges full fibre broadband in every home by 2025.

Health and social care

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Promises more funding for social care. - Wants to introduce an opt out insurance system to fund future care, similar to the way pensions work. - Wants to target manufacturers of unhealthy foods to make them cut the sugar content. - Mental health support to be offered in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Rules out a pay-for-access NHS, saying it would remain "free to everybody at the point of use" under his leadership. - Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS. - Plans to give public sector workers a "fair" pay rise, according to supporter Health Secretary Matt Hancock. - Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party "national consensus".

Education

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

- Pledges to write off tuition fees for young entrepreneurs who start a new business and employ more than 10 people for five years. - Wants to reduce interest rates on student debt repayments. - Long-term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession. - Wants to abolish illiteracy.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

- Wants to raise per-pupil spending in primary and secondary schools, with a minimum of £5,000 for each student in the latter. - Wants to look at lowering the interest rate on student debts.

On Tuesday 18 June BBC One will host a live election debate between the Conservative MPs still in the race.

If you would like to ask the candidates a question live on air, use the form below. It should be open to all of them, not a specific politician.

Tory leadership rivals face first party vote

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