Then there were THREE: Sajid Javid is OUT of the Tory leadership battle

Sajid Javid was dramatically ejected from the Tory leadership battle today – as Michael Gove surged into pole position to face Boris Johnson in the run-off. 

The Home Secretary was eliminated after coming last in the latest ballot of MPs, securing just 34 votes – down from 38 yesterday. 

He was behind Michael Gove who had a significant boost to reach 61, overtaking Jeremy Hunt on 59.

Mr Johnson was still way out in front with a massive total of 157. The final two will be announced at 6pm after another round of voting, with the party membership then getting to decide the winner. 

Sources close to Mr Hunt immediately stepped up their attack as he tries to regain the initiative and secure second place. ‘Boris and Michael are great candidates but we have seen their personal psychodrama before,’ one senior source said. ‘It’s time to offer the country someone the EU will actually talk to.’ 

Earlier, Mr Johnson’s allies were accused of plotting an ‘Oxford Union knifing’ of Mr Gove amid claims dirty tricks are being deployed to stop him getting into the head-to-head. 

MPs are frustrated about the long-running struggle between Mr Johnson and Mr Gove – whose rivalry stretches back to when they were at Oxford together. 

Many of Mr Johnson’s closest acolytes have never forgiven Mr Gove for betraying him in the 2016 leadership contest, when he pulled his support at the last second and launched his own abortive bid. 

Mr Stewart has blamed ‘dark arts’ for his demise – with claims Johnson’s allies propped him up with votes to ensure rival Dominic Raab was evicted, before pulling their backing last night.

Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who is campaigning for Mr Hunt, this morning urged Mr Johnson to condemn the ‘game playing’ by his fans. But asked as he went in to vote today whether he knew anything about the ‘dark arts’, Mr Johnson merely smiled and said: ‘No.’ He refused to say whether he had voted for himself.








Sajid Javid was eliminated after coming last in the latest ballot of MPs today - securing just 34 votes from MPs

Sajid Javid was eliminated after coming last in the latest ballot of MPs today - securing just 34 votes from MPs

Sajid Javid was eliminated after coming last in the latest ballot of MPs today – securing just 34 votes from MPs 

There are claims Mr Johnson’s allies are determined to evict Mr Gove (pictured at his London home today) from the contest

Boris Johnson (pictured at his London home today) is guaranteed to make the final two in the Tory leader contest – with Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove fighting over who will take him on















One Tory MP told MailOnline Mr Johnson’s supporters were ‘taking the p***’ and their ‘arrogance’ was alienating the wider party.

What happens next in the Tory leadership race?

Tory MPs have now whittled the field of challengers down to just three candidates.

And when the result of the fifth ballot is announced at 6pm they will have selected the final two. 

At that point Tory MPs will have completed their part of the leadership contest and the remaining two candidates will then be put to Conservative Party members to choose from. 

The final pair will have to face a series of 16 hustings events over the next month with Theresa May’s replacement expected to be announced in the week starting July 22.

‘This is Oxford Union knifing. This is revenge porn. This is season two of some peculiarly bleak Nordic noir, where you don’t know in the final episode whether they are going to f*** each other or throttle each other,’ they said.  

Mr Hunt also ramped up his rhetoric against the front runner, urging his colleagues to recognise the party ‘can do better than Boris’.  In a sign Mr Hunt could benefit from Mr Stewart’s departure, minister Margot James has said she will support him.

Meanwhile, Mr Stewart said former competitors have been in touch trying to win him over – but insisted he would not be backing anyone publicly. 

‘I’ve been getting texts like you wouldn’t believe,’ he joked. 

MPs loyal to Mr Johnson are plotting the Environment Secretary’s downfall, with one Johnson supporter gleefully vowing to ‘humiliate’ him. 

Mr Johnson’s team have approached Mr Javid – who came fourth in the ballot yesterday – to become chancellor, according to allies of the home secretary. 

There is mounting speculation that he will pledge support for Mr Johnson in return for the plum post in the new government.  

Maverick leadership hopeful Mr Stewart was dramatically booted from the contest yesterday after coming last with just 27 votes – down from 37 on Monday – leaving four hopefuls left to fight it out.

Boris is accused of plot to knock out Gove 

Boris Johnson’s allies were accused of an ‘Oxford Union knifing’ of Michael Gove and the political equivalent of ‘revenge porn’ today amid claims dirty tricks are being deployed to get him out of the Tory leader battle.

The favourite’s outriders have been accused of plotting to settle old scores with Mr Gove by ‘lending’ votes to other candidates. 

The extraordinary scheming comes as Jeremy Hunt and Mr Gove scramble to woo supporters of Sajid Javid, who was eliminated from the contest this afternoon, and Rory Stewart, who went last night.

Many of Mr Johnson’s closest acolytes have never forgiven Mr Gove for betraying him in the 2016 leadership contest, when he pulled his support at the last second and launched his own abortive bid. 

Mr Stewart has blamed ‘dark arts’ for his demise – with claims Johnson’s allies propped him up with votes to ensure rival Dominic Raab was evicted, before pulling their backing last night.

Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who is campaigning for Mr Hunt, this morning urged Mr Johnson to condemn the ‘game playing’ by his fans. But asked as he went in to vote today whether he knew anything about the ‘dark arts’, Mr Johnson merely smiled and said: ‘No.’

Mr Johnson picked up support from Mr Raab, who was evicted in the previous round, to increase his tally again from 126 to 143 – tightening his grip on the keys to Downing Street.

While Hunt came second with 54 votes, Gove came third with 51, and Javid on 38. 

But Mr Johnson’s team have already approached the home secretary and offered ‘all sorts of jobs up to that of chancellor’, if he drops out the race and backs Boris.

The remaining candidates not named Johnson are now desperately vying for Rory Stewart’s backers, with pressure being put on them to support Mr Hunt to leave Mr Gove isolated.

Mr Johnson’s supporters believe that facing Mr Hunt in the final two would be easier than taking on Mr Gove.

Many of Johnson’s team have a ‘visceral hatred’ for the environment secretary and were directly accused by Mr Stewart of dirty tricks yesterday. 

One Tory MP said: ‘This is Oxford Union knifing. This is revenge porn. This is season two of some peculiarly bleak Nordic noir, where you don’t know in the final episode of season two whether they are going to f*** each other or throttle each other.’

The MP said the ‘Machiavellis’ on Johnson’s team were hard at work. 

‘This is revenge day today. Have you ever seen a cat play with a mouse? Johnson is purring and Gove is the squeaker,’ they said.

Mr Hunt (pictured out running today) has been in second place in the first three Tory ballots - but is only narrowly ahead of Mr Gove with all to play for

Mr Hunt (pictured out running today) has been in second place in the first three Tory ballots - but is only narrowly ahead of Mr Gove with all to play for

Mr Hunt (pictured out running today) has been in second place in the first three Tory ballots – but is only narrowly ahead of Mr Gove with all to play for








‘It has (added excitement) if you like Tory melodrama. You have to see Johnson with a top hat, cape and twirly moustache and poor old Gove lashed to the railway line whilst the flying Scotsman comes thundering down.’

However, the MP said the machinations were not going down well in the MPs’ tea room at Westminster – or with the wider public.

Rivalry between Boris & Gove goes back to Oxford University days 

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove on the campaign trail for Vote Leave in 2016

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove on the campaign trail for Vote Leave in 2016

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove on the campaign trail for Vote Leave in 2016

The rivalry between Boris Johnson and Michael Gove stretches right back to their university days.

It was described in a biography of Mr Gove by Owen Bennett, serialised in the Mail earlier this month. 

From the moment Gove arrived at Oxford University, he had set his sights on becoming President of the Oxford Union. In a 1987 collection of essays entitled ‘The Oxford Myth’, one former president advised others how to ascend to the post. A candidate needs ‘a disciplined and deluded collection of stooges’ who will persuade people in their respective colleges to back you, the essayist noted. Collecting and motivating these ‘stooges’ is a skill in itself.

The presidential candidate must convince the stooge that there is something in it for them; that by so nakedly attaching themselves to his or her particular bandwagon the fruits of success will somehow trickle down.

Yet, as the author of the essay pointedly revealed: ‘The tragedy of the stooge is that even if he thinks this through, he wants so much to believe that his relationship with the candidate is special that he shuts out the truth. The terrible art of the candidate is to coddle the self-deception of the stooge.’ In his first year at Oxford, Gove willingly became a ‘stooge’. Indeed, to the student who wrote those very words: Boris Johnson.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York on June 19, 1964 -three years before Gove entered the world in Scotland.

By the time Gove arrived at Oxford, Johnson was one of the big figures on campus. His shock of blond hair, his larger-than-life persona, meant he was someone everybody knew.

Johnson enrolled in 1983 to read Classics at Balliol College and had his sights set on the Union presidency in much the same way as Gove would in future years. He failed in his first attempt to get elected in 1984/85, but had another crack at it a year later.

This time, Johnson hatched a plan to reach out to more of the electorate than his Old Etonian demeanour had previously won over. He decided to mask his natural leanings by adopting the Social Democratic Party, the new political movement launched in 1981.

With the Tory wolf now dressed in SDP clothing, Johnson needed a flock of stooges to spread his many messages across campus.

Gove was a willing member of the ‘Boris cult’, he later remembered, providing a vivid description of his first encounter with the man: ‘It was in the Union bar. He was a striking figure with sheepdog hair and penny loafers, standing in a distinctive pose with his hands in his trouser pockets and his head bent forward.

‘I think people in the country find it bizarre, but then politics is in such a bizarre place,’ they said. 

‘I think colleagues here find it distasteful. They find it arrogant. They think the Johnson campaign is taking the piss. If you want to win you maximise your vote and don’t play silly buggers.’

Johnson supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg said any ‘dirty tricks’ vote transfer campaign by supporters of the former foreign secretary to try and knock Michael Gove out of the contest would be ‘silly’. 

Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘I think people should always vote for the candidate they support. ‘It is really silly to try and game elections because you can find that your candidate then loses. ‘Vote for the candidate you support is what I have been saying on my side of the argument.’ 

Speaking ahead of the vote, Mr Stewart told reporters the former defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who is organising Mr Johnson’s campaign, was encouraging Johnson-supporting MPs to lend their votes to other candidates to manipulate the contest in a bid to determine who he would face in the final run-off.

He told reporters: ‘There’s also the dark arts. Gavin Williamson’s proxy votes, which we don’t know about.

‘There are dark arts in politics and they’re done with proxy votes, they’re not done with someone saying ‘would you please vote for this person’.’

Ms Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I find all this conversation about lending votes rather discrediting of the system.

‘I would really call on Boris himself to repudiate the information that is coming out of ‘friends of Boris’, saying this, saying one thing.’

Ms Rudd, who backs Jeremy Hunt in the race for Downing Street, added: ‘This is a serious moment. We don’t need that sort of game playing going on in Parliament.’

Philip Hammond will today urge Mr Johnson to keep open the option of a second referendum to break the Brexit deadlock and pledge to ‘fight’ against No Deal.

In a pessimistic intervention, the Chancellor will warn that the next Prime Minister will not be able to secure a better deal with the European Union and MPs will block any attempt at a No Deal exit.

Mr Hammond will signal his agreement with Mr Stewart that Mrs May’s deal is the best the EU will offer.

As a result, ‘other democratic mechanisms’ may be needed. Allies said he was suggesting either a general election or second referendum.

The remarks, due to be made today in his annual Mansion House speech to senior bankers and financiers in the City of London, will make Mr Hammond the most senior Conservative to endorse the idea of a second vote on Brexit – and will enrage hardline Tory Brexiteers. 

They will be seen as a suggestion he could help to bring down a Boris led-government if it sought to pursue No Deal, by backing Labour in a confidence vote.

Calling on all the candidates to be ‘honest with the public’ Mr Hammond will urge them to set out an alternative if their plan A is ‘undeliverable’. 

He will say: ‘If the new Prime Minister cannot end the deadlock in Parliament, then he will have to explore other democratic mechanisms to break the impasse.

Because if he fails, his job will be on the line – and so, too, will the jobs and prosperity of millions of our fellow citizens.’

The Chancellor will say that the parliamentary arithmetic will not change unless there is an election, Parliament will block No Deal, and will not support the withdrawal deal as it stands. 

As the domestic drama raged, the challenge facing the next PM was underlined by comments from Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

Ahead of an EU summit in Brussels today, Mr Rutte said the next prime minister needs to realise Brexit would ‘diminish’ the UK and No Deal would be even worse.

With a hard Brexit, even with a normal Brexit, the UK will be a different country,’ he told the Today programme. 

‘It will be a diminished country. It is unavoidable.’ 

Gove

Gove

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Mr Gove and Mr Johnson’s time at Oxford University overlapped – and that is where their rivalry goes back to

‘Wrong on every level’: Furious Brexiteers turn on Chancellor Philip Hammond as he backs second referendum as option to break deadlock and vows to ‘fight and fight’ against No Deal 

Tory Eurosceptic MPs have attacked Philip Hammond as the Chancellor prepares to use a speech this evening to urge the next prime minister to consider holding a second Brexit referendum. 

The Chancellor is expected to tell City of London chiefs that Theresa May’s deal remains the best way for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion. 

He will suggest that if that deal cannot get through Parliament then Mrs May’s successor will have to consider ‘other democratic mechanisms’ to resolve the impasse. 

He will also vow to ‘fight and fight’ against No Deal in comments seen as a direct challenge to Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be the next Tory leader, who has suggested he would take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without an agreement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured) will urge Boris Johnson to keep the option of a second EU referendum open to break Brexit deadlock

Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured) will urge Boris Johnson to keep the option of a second EU referendum open to break Brexit deadlock

Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured) will urge Boris Johnson to keep the option of a second EU referendum open to break Brexit deadlock

But the intervention has sparked fury among Tory Brexiteers who are vehemently opposed to holding a second referendum. 

Simon Clarke, a Conservative Eurosceptic MP, said: ‘This is wrong on every level. Wrong because it would shatter faith in politics. 

‘Wrong because it would usher in a ruinous Government led by Jeremy Corbyn. 

‘And wrong because it would not bring resolution to the issue – if a second referendum, why not a third? Terrible.’ 

 

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