The Health Secretary held talks with fifth-place rival Sajid Javid last night but no decisions on any new alliances appear to have been made. A Hancock campaign source told Politic.eu their man was still mulling his options but added: “The first rule of politics is to know how to count.” Candidates need 33 votes to progress to a third round which means Mr Hancock and Mr Javid, along with Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart, need to find new support to stand any chance of continuing in the race.
Boris Johnson remains the runaway favourite to replace Theresa May after bagging 114 votes in the first round which saw Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Mark Harper cut from the field.
Mrs Leadsom is thought to be considering backing Mr Javid who was just ahead of Mr Hancock on 23 votes but at the same time some of the Home Secretary’s supporters have suggested he bows out and throws his lot in with Mr Johnson in the hope of landing a plum Cabinet role in he next administration.
The remaining candidates are also vulnerable to their supporters jumping ship with insiders suggesting at least three of Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s backers considering defecting and backing Mr Johnson in nex Tuesday’s second round.
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Matt Hancock is expected to pull out of the Tory leadership race
9.40am update: Johnson rival sign up for TV debates
Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart have issued a joint statement declaring the Tory leadership contest is “a critical moment” for both the UK and the Conservative party as they signed up for TV debates.
They said: “The next Conservative Leader, and Prime Minister, will have the crucial task of uniting Britain behind a new vision – not only to deliver Brexit, but to define what comes next.
“This leadership contest provides an important opportunity to debate, to shape and to define the ideas which will underpin those competing visions.
“That is why we are committed to taking part in the Channel 4 televised debates this Sunday and the BBC programme next Tuesday.”
Boris Johnson has yet to commit and those campaigning against him warned his strategy of avoiding media scrutiny could land the Tories with the same sort of leadership coronation that delivered victory for Theresa May without her being “stress-tested” under the spotlight.
9.28am update: Johnson backers urge stragglers to quit leadership race
Boris Johnson’s campaign team has called on “vanity candidates” to drop out of the Tory leadership race to speed up the process of selecting the next prime minister.
The former foreign secretary gathered 114 votes in the first ballot, 71 more than second-placed Jeremy Hunt.
Seven of the 10 candidates went through to the second round but with the four least popular managing just 89 votes between them, Team Johnson is urging them to withdraw so the field can be whittled down to the final two next Tuesday.
9.08am update: Patel backs Boris as row over Muslim women comments erupts
Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel has leapt to Boris Johnson’s defence after the Tory leadership favourite was attacked over his well-documented remarks about the appearance of Muslim women.
Ms Patel said: “That article was Boris’s very clear defence of women’s rights to wear whatever they like, and it was not written to mock in the way in which was asserted.”
She spoke our after the chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum has made a comparison between Mr Johnson and Adolf Hitler.
Mohammed Amin said he would quit the Tory Party after many years as a member if the former foreign secretary was elected leader.
Mr Amin said a column Mr Johnson wrote last August comparing women who wore burkas to “letter boxes and bank robbers” had put some Muslim women at risk.
He said: ”He knew exactly what effect it would have – it would lead to Muslim women who wear niqab and burka being verbally abused on the streets; in certain cases being physically assaulted, with people trying to tear it off.
“He chose to mock Muslim women who wear niqab and burka for his own purposes.”
Boris Johnson is under fire for previous comments about Muslim women
8.32am update: Hunt accuses Johnson of ‘hiding’
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has accused Boris Johnson of hiding from the media during the Tory leadership contest and preventing a wider debate within the party.
He told the BBC: “We can only have that debate if our front-runner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media and actually engaging in debates. Engaging in the TV debates.”
Mr Hunt said he would take part in leadership TV debates
And in a swipe at Mr Johnson he said: “What would Churchill say if someone who wants to be prime minister of the United Kingdom is hiding away from the media, not taking part in these big occasions?”
7.46am update: Stewart ‘would work for Johnson’
Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart has made clear he could serve in a Cabinet led by Boris Johnson after previously ruling out such a situation.
The International Development Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we ended up in a crisis, and I fear no-deal Brexit would be a crisis, and if he were to wish me to come back, which I think is a little doubtful given the slight acrimony of the last few weeks, then, of course, I’d be honoured to serve.”
Tory leadership race – runners and riders
7.30am update: Tory Muslim chief will quit party if Boris wins
The chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum has said he will quit the Tories if Boris Johnson wins the leadership of the party and compared the former foreign secetary to Hitler.
Mohammed Amin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am not prepared to be a member of a party that chooses him as its leader.
“I would resign after 36 years.”
Asked about Mr Johnson’s popularity with grass roots members of the party, Mr Amin said: “There are many horrible people who have been popular. Popularity is not the test.
“The test is, is this person sufficiently moral to be prime minister, and I believe he fails that test.
“A lot of Germans thought that Hitler was the right man for them.”