Johnson vs Hunt in the battle for Number 10 as Gove narrowly misses out
Conservative Party members will now vote to decide who will be the next prime minister.
Boris Johnson will take on Jeremy Hunt in the battle for Number 10 after a day of drama at Westminster.
Michael Gove was eliminated from the race by just two votes as Conservative MPs balked at the possibility of a bitter contest due to the “personal psychodrama” involving the Environment Secretary and his rival Mr Johnson.
Allies of Mr Hunt had urged MPs to choose the Foreign Secretary to help keep the party together rather than risk a ferocious row between Mr Johnson and Mr Gove.
“Boris and Michael are great candidates but we have seen their personal psychodrama before,” a source said.
Mr Hunt acknowledged he is the underdog in the final contest but insisted he can cause an upset.
He said: “I’m the underdog – but in politics surprises happen, as they did today.
“I do not doubt the responsibility on my shoulders – to show my party how we deliver Brexit and not an election, but also a turbo-charged economy and a country that walks tall in the world.”
Mr Johnson said he was “deeply honoured” to have secured the support from more than half of the Tory MPs in the Commons.
“I look forward to getting out across the UK and to set out my plan to deliver Brexit, unite our country, and create a brighter future for all of us,” he said.
There had been widespread speculation at Westminster that Mr Johnson’s camp would attempt to engineer a way to prevent Mr Gove making the final pair – although the former foreign secretary denied being involved in any “dark arts”.
Mr Gove said he was “naturally disappointed but so proud of the campaign we ran” and “it’s been an honour to be able to set out a vision for the future of our great country”.
In the fifth and final round of voting by MPs to whittle the field down to two, Mr Johnson again finished first, with 160 votes.
Mr Hunt regained second place, having lost it to Mr Gove in the fourth round of voting.
He secured 77 votes to get his name on the final ballot paper, which will go to around 160,000 Conservative members who will choose the next prime minister.
Mr Gove received 75 votes.
Earlier on Thursday, Sajid Javid’s campaign ended after he received just 34 votes in the fourth ballot.
The final outcome of the leadership contest will not be known until the week beginning July 22, with the two remaining candidates taking part in a series of hustings in front of Tory members around the country before the votes are counted.
Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt will also take part in a head-to-head debate on ITV on July 9.