Judi James, a body language analyst for MailOnline, deciphered the body language of the five remaining candidates for Tory leader. Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart find themselves in the third ballot of the race after the elimination of Dominic Raab. The candidates will require 33 votes from fellow MPs on today’s ballot and avoid finishing last to pass on to the fourth ballot tomorrow.
If more than two candidates remain a fifth ballot will be held later on Thursday.
Ms James noted Mr Stewart differed from his opponents: “As the other would-be next PMs sat legs-akimbo on their Westlife tribute-act stools it was Rory Stewart positioning himself as the daring outsider with his tie off and his feet placed firmly on the ground.
“He rocked, he sneered with a fully raised upper lip, and he laughed and shook his head as the others debated.
“At times his head even dropped forward as though he was in mourning for politics in general.
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“His very different body language rituals made him look like a silent threat aimed at unnerving the others but it was a more confident Javid who appeared to play him at his own game, throwing a direct question at him towards the end that had Rory fast-blinking and even verbally swerving for a change.”
Ms James noted Mr Gove looked more reserved than he did on Sunday’s debate and tried to project an air of authority with “two raised index fingers to try to conduct Emily Maitlis, the BBC host when she interrupted him and his constant precision gestures or ‘thumb of power’ gestures looked aimed at implying a sense of leadership and authority.”
She suggested Mr Johnson, who sat out Sunday’s debate, looked to avoid eye contact but when it was time to speak the former London Mayor “employed two great clunking fists like a boxer finishing off his opponent.”
Ms James believed Mr Hunt currently second in the race, was a lot more nervous than in the previous debate, describing him as “rattled” by the seating in the studio.
After the debate was done Mr Javid made a point to shake hands with his fellow MPs and Ms James describes this as “taking the leadership role”.
Indeed, Mr Javid and Mr Stewart appeared rather cordial when they shook hands but with Mr Johnson clearly in front and Mr Gove and Mr Hunt looking to be facing off to join the former Foreign Secretary in the final two, many viewers may have been keeping an eye on the trio.
Mr Johnson simply got ready and left the studio, paying little attention to the other four men in the room.
Mr Gove and Mr Hunt left in a similar fashion and Joe Middleton writing in the MailOnline described them as “stony-faced” as they made their exits.
The third and final televised debate for the leadership contest will be hosted by Kay Burley on Sky News and filmed in front of a live studio audience of Conservative supporters.
The debate is expected to last 90 minutes and will feature the final two candidates but final details are they to be confirmed.