Tory leadership election: Theresa May tops first vote as Liam Fox eliminated
Home Secretary Theresa May has taken pole position in the race to succeed David Cameron as prime minister, securing a comfortable advantage over her four rivals with the backing of 165 Conservative MPs in the first round of voting.
Former defence secretary Liam Fox was eliminated from the contest after winning the support of just 16 MPs.
Mrs May's tally amounted to exactly half of the 330 Conservative MPs, but was a majority of the 329 voting, guaranteeing her a place in the final run-off ballot of Conservative members unless she loses supporters to one of her rivals over the next few days.
Now attention turns to the battle for the second place on the ballot paper, with leading Brexit backer Andrea Leadsom taking 66 votes, Eurosceptic Justice Secretary Michael Gove 48 and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb 34.
The four remaining contenders are due to face a second MPs' vote on Thursday, followed by a final round next Tuesday unless any of the candidates has dropped out by that time.
Belfast Telegraph Digital