Michael Gove urged MPs not to “polarise” the party, with Rory Stewart winning over Remain voters to become second favourite in the Tory leadership race, behind hardline Brexiteer Boris Johnson. Their differing Brexit positions have pushed out Mr Gove so he is now in fourth place in betting odds. Mr Johnson is a dead-cert favourite to be one of the final two candidates put to Tory members in the deciding round of voting, but momentum for the International Development Secretary has unsettled rivals battling for the second position.
READ MORE: What time is second ballot on the Tory leadership today? Who will go?
It would be a mistake to put forward two candidates to the final round who will polarise our party
Mr Gove urged his colleagues to avoid aggravating Conservative Party divisions by ensuring both the final candidates are Brexiteers.
He wrote in The Times: “It would be a mistake to put forward two candidates to the final round who will polarise our party.”
The Environment Secretary doesn’t name Mr Stewart, but he is the only candidate not claiming to be able to seal a Brexit deal better than the much-criticised one Theresa May struck with the European Union.
Mr Gove added: “As well as having the ability to take on Corbyn, the final two should be candidates who believe in Brexit, who can deliver it and who can unite the party.
Tory leader LIVE: Michael Gove has made a desperate plea as Rory Stewart surges ahead
“I’m the only candidate in this race who both believes in Brexit through and through and who all the other contenders would willingly serve under.”
Last night, Mr Stewart’s campaign was boosted by the backing of Cabinet Office Minister and defect deputy Prime Minister David Lidington.
Several MPs backing Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has pulled out of the leadership race, have swung behind the former rank outsider, who is now being considered as a serious contender for the second spot in the final vote to become Prime Minister.
Mr Stewart’s opposition to a no deal Brexit by October 31 has won him a number of backers from the Remain wing of the Conservative Party.
This afternoon, the battle for Tory leadership intensifies with the second round of voting, with the candidates needing to secure at least 33 votes from Tory MPs to progress
Mr Johnson will also join the remaining candidates in a live TV debate broadcast by the BBC this evening, having not appeared on the Channel 4 alternative on Sunday.
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Tory leader LIVE: Six candidates will do battle in the second round of voting today
11.15am update: Stewart compares leadership campaign to Corbyn’s takeover of Labour
Rory Stewart gas likened his campaign for the Tory leadership to Jeremy corby’s takeover of the Labour Party, hailing a return to “old-fashioned politics”.
The International Development Secretary admitted he had been a Labour Party member as a teenager, but made clear he opposed Mr Corbyn’s economic and foreign policy.
When asked on BBC Radio 4 if there were similarities between them, he replied: “There’s something in that.
“One of the things he has done is he has completely transformed the party membership – quadrupling the number of members.
“He simply did it because he enjoyed talking to people and he believes in what he said.
“One of the things that I found so invigorating about it was that it feels much more like old-fashioned politics.”
10.40am update: Rory Stewart’s leadership bid dashed as he finishes LAST in major Tory members poll
Rory Stewart has suffered a crushing blow in the race to become the next Conservative Party leader after finishing last in a poll of party members.
The International Development Secretary, who has been gathering momentum in the race for Number 10, finished bottom in a YouGov survey which asked Tory members whether each of the candidates would make a good or bad leader.
The survey of 892 members from June 11-14 revealed 50 percent think Mr Stewart would make a bad leader, with just 31 believing he would do a good job.
Mr Stewart’s leadership hopes had received a boost last night when Cabinet Office Minister and deputy Prime Minister David Lidington said he was backing him.
The support came after Mr Stewart surged to second favourite with the bookies listing him at 10/1 after a strong performance at the Channel 4 leadership debate on Sunday.
9.31am update: Boris speaks on morning on second vote
The leadership frontrunner has tweeted: “Thank you for all your support so far.
“We must leave the EU on October 31st, with or without a deal, so we can begin to unite our country, restore trust in our politics, and move beyond Brexit to focus on delivering for everyone.”
9.27am update: Pound plummets to FIVE-MONTH LOW against the euro as hard Brexit fears increase
Signs arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson may be closing in on becoming the next Prime Minister has sent the pound tumbling to a five-month low against the euro on Tuesday as investors worried about the risks of a hard exit from the European Union.
Sterling dived to 89.66 versus the euro – it’s lowest level since mid-January – ahead of the second round of voting in the Tory leadership contest.
The pound has weakened more than six percent against the single currency since early May has investors raise bearish bets against sterling on worries Britain may crash out of the bloc without a deal on October 31.
Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, said: “Fears of a disorderly exit could keep the path of least resistance to the downside.”
9.14am update: Farage FURY as Brexit Party leader tears apart PM wannabes with FEROCIOUS attack
Nigel Farage has vowed to reject any offers of an electoral pact with the Tories, insisting he could not “trust” them to deliver Brexit.
The Brexit Party leader confirmed “a couple” of Tory donors had recently approached him about a possible alliance to try to save their party from being wiped out at the next general election.
But he declared support for his anti-Brussels force was “not up for grabs” and warned that the country appeared to be heading for yet another lengthy Brexit delay this autumn whoever succeeds Theresa May as the next Tory leader and prime minister.
Speaking to the Daily Express, Mr Farage said: “I’ve been approached by a couple of people. But why would I trust anybody in the Conservative Party?
“If they really want to leave on October 31, they need to get on with it. All I can see at the moment is a rerun of March 29.
“I can understand why they want to buy me off but the lack of trust means it’s not up for grabs.”
Tory leadership LIVE: Nigel Farage has torn into the PM wannabes with a ferocious attack
9.03am update: Javid worried Stewart is ‘taking some support from all candidates’
Sajid Javid has accused Rory Stewart of “effectively telling us that we should remain in the EU”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think he’s effectively telling us that we should remain in the EU and there is a small constituency amongst my colleagues that would rather remain than leave, and I think that is part of the challenge that we have to deal with.
“And so I think up to a point Rory can attract that support but it’s not going to get us any further.”
But Mr Stewart was quick to replay to Mr Javid’s claims, and wrote on Twitter: “I’m sure Sajid didn’t mean that.
He knows how fiercely and passionately we have both campaigned to get the withdrawal agreement through – and how although I – like he – voted Remain, we have fought together sincerely as fellow Cabinet Ministers for a moderate and pragmatic Brexit.”
8.56am update: Tory leader poll reveals BAD NEWS for Rory Stewart
The International Development Secretary’s hopes of becoming the new Conservative Party have been dealt a blow.
A new YouGov survey of 892 Tory members from June 11-14 revealed half (50 percent) think he would make a poor leader, with less than a third (31 percent) believing he would make a good one.
Leadership frontrunner topped yet another poll, with more than three-quarters (77 percent) thinking he would make a good leader.
Dominic Raab was in second place on 68 percent, followed by Sajid Javid (61 percent) and Jeremy Hunt (56 percent).
tory members are split on Michael Gove, with 50 percent thinking he would be a good leader, but another 45 percent believing he would do a poor job.
Tory leadership LIVE: Who is Rory Stewart?
8.47am update: Liam Gallagher puts himself forward to be next PM
The singer and former frontman of rock band Oasis has vowed to “sort this pile of **** out”.
He wrote on Twitter: “My name is Liam Gallagher. I have 4 beautiful children. I have dabbled in drugs over the years.
“I’ve had many number 1s. Now send me the keys to no10. I’ll sort this pile of **** out.
“WHY ME? WHY NOT.”
8.40am update: Rory Stewart has ‘no problem’ being the ‘STOP BORIS’ candidate
The Tory leadership hopeful has said he has “no problem” being the “stop Boris” candidate, and would “love” to go against Mr Johnson in the final two.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have no problem with that and I would love to go against him in the final two in order to give members the chance to choose whether they want Boris’s Brexit or mine.”
The International Development Secretary also faced questions about his back story, amid reports that he allegedly worked as a spy.
Asked if former spies could, under the law, answer honestly whether they worked for MI6, he said: “No, and in fact the law wouldn’t allow newspapers to reveal the identity of intelligence officers…
“I definitely would say I served my country and if somebody asked me whether I am a spy I would say no.”
Tory leadership LIVE: Boris Johnson has received the backing of Andrea Leadsom
8.31am update: Leadsom backing Johnson in leadership race
Boris Johnson’s campaign to become the next Prime Minister has received a boost with the support of former Conservative leadership contender Andrea Leadsom.
The former Leader of the House of Commons was eliminated from the first round of voting last week, having failed to gain the minimum 16 votes required from Tory MPs.
She told LBC Radio: “I think he will be a very good leader for our country.”
Last night, Cabinet Office Minister and defacto Prime Minister David Lidington said he was backing Rory Stewart.
Mr Lidington said: “I think there is a yearning in this country for political leaders who tell it straight to people.
“What Rory has done in his campaign is to demonstrate that there are no no-go areas in this country for him or for the party which he aspires to lead.”
8.07am update: Johnson to take part in live TV debate tonight
The Tory leadership favourite will participate in a live TV debate broadcast by the BBC this evening.
Mr Johnson was a notable absentee from the live TV debate broadcast by Channel 4 on Sunday.
But the atmosphere will be different to the event two days ago, with no live audience but questions instead coming from viewers across the country via local BBC studios.
7.50am update: Crunch day in Tory leadership race
Conservative MPs will vote in the second bout of the contest from 3pm to 5pm this afternoon, with the result announced at 6pm.
The candidates will need to secure at least 33 votes to reach the final run-off, which will see around 160,000 Tory members select the next Prime Minister.
If all candidates pass the 33-vote threshold, the one with the lowest total will be eliminated and by the end of the week, four of the six current riders will be forced out, leaving the final two to go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots.