Matthew Hancock still in the running for new Prime Minister
- Credit: PA
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock is still in the running to become Britain’s next Prime Minister – but he’s still a long way behind favourite and pack leader Boris Johnson.
The Health Secretary won 20 votes from fellow Conservative MPs in the first ballot for the party leader - just two more than the minimum required to prevent him being eliminated. That was 94 votes behind Mr Johnson who won 114 on the first ballot.
They are both among the seven who will go through to the second MPs' ballot next Tuesday when they will need 33 votes to go through to the next round of voting.
Before then they will all be invited to take part in a Channel Four News debate on Sunday evening.
There is speculation that some of the remaining candidates may still withdraw before Tuesday's vote - but that is unlikely to happen until they return to Westminster on Monday morning.
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One Westminster insider said: "I doubt whether we will get to the last scheduled ballot on Thursday."
Mr Hancock's only reaction since the result was announced was a tweet saying: "Thanks so much for the fantastic support - terrific to have more votes from colleagues than I could have hoped for #letsmoveforward"
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The three clear front-runners after the first round of voting are Mr Johnson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who got 42 votes and Environment Secretary Michael Gove who got 37.
There could now be a scramble from them and their supporters to persuade the other four candidates to stand down, possibly with the offer of a plum cabinet job if they support them.
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab got 27 votes, Home Secretary Sajid Javid got 23 and Overseas Development Secretary Rory Stewart got 19.
The three MPs eliminated on Thursday were Esther McVey with nine votes, Mark Harper with 10 and Andrea Leadsom with 11.
Existing candidates will be desperately trying to win their endorsement - Mr Raab will particularly be hoping to get support from those who supported Ms McVey and Ms Leadsom although their supporters might have seen the way the wind is blowing and be keen to give their support to Mr Johnson in the hope of ending up on the winning side at the end of the contest.