Tory MPs prepare for first round of leadership voting, as Boris Johnson backs Andrea Leadsom
Conservative MPs will take part in the first round of voting on the next Tory leader today.
One of Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox will be eliminated when the result of the ballot is announced this evening.
Ms Leadsom has been handed a double boost from the endorsement of Boris Johnson and a poll of ConservativeHome readers showing her edging ahead of frontrunner Ms May.
Home Secretary Ms May has the support of more than 100 of her parliamentary colleagues, including new endorsements from Cabinet ministers Liz Truss and Greg Clark.
Ms Leadsom follows with about 40 declared MP backers. Mr Gove and Mr Crabb each have approximately 25 MPs supporting them, while Dr Fox trails with about 10.
A hustings last night ended with criticism of Ms Leadsom’s performance by one fellow MP, who called it a “car crash”.
But the ConservativeHome survey of its readers gives her 38% of support, a 1% lead over Ms May.
A YouGov poll of Conservative members, however, gives Ms May a commanding lead over her rivals.
The survey suggests the Home Secretary would see off Ms Leadsom by 32% in the final round, as the Energy Minister would win over just 4% of Tories who supported staying in the EU.
The poll showed the proportion of Tories who had a positive view of Mr Gove had dropped from 63% to 32% in light of his decision to abandon Mr Johnson.
After today’s round of voting, the field will be whittled down further on Thursday and next Tuesday, after which the final two candidates will be put to Conservative members.
BORIS BACKS ‘TRUSTWORTHY’ LEADSOM
Mr Johnson, who scuttled his own leadership bid when Mr Gove withdrew his support last week, released a statement backing his fellow Leave campaigner.
“Andrea Leadsom offers the zap, the drive, and the determination essential for the next leader of this country,” the former Mayor of London said.
“She has long championed the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. She has a better understanding of finance than almost anyone else in Parliament.
"She has considerable experience of government.
“She is level headed, kind, trustworthy approachable and the possessor of a good sense of humour.
"She has specialised in the EU question and successfully campaigned for leave and will be therefore well placed to help forge a great post-Brexit future for Britain and Europe.
“Above all she possesses the qualities needed to bring together Leavers and Remainers in the weeks and months ahead. I will be voting for Andrea Leadsom tomorrow.”