05:38 GMT +323 January 2020
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    The first and second rounds of voting to elect a successor to Theresa May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister of the UK saw five candidates eliminated from the race. One of the four remaining leadership contenders will be picked by the party to take over as PM and look to end the Brexit deadlock.

    Boris Johnson maintained his lead as the clear favourite among Conservative MPs following the third round of voting.

    After just managing to stay in the race following the second round with 37 votes, Rory Stewart ultimately fell short and was eliminated from the campaign.

    Boris Johnson leads with 148 votes and Jeremy Hunt remains in a steady second with 54.

    Rory Stewart had seen rising momentum throughout the leadership challenge, but dropped 10 votes, failing to make the cut into the next round. 

    Sajid Javid managed to stay in the race with 38.

    Good Morning Britain Presenter Piers Morgan said on Twitter that Mr Stewart’s campaign is enough to scare Boris Johnson.

    ​Taking place on frontrunner Boris Johnson’s birthday, who has gained the support of ousted candidate Dominic Raab, the vote has now reduced the ballot from five to four contenders.

    There will be two more rounds of voting. One for MPs exclusively on 20 June which will trim the race down to just two candidates.

    Boris Johnson’s lead continues to grow from the second round as MPs throw their support behind the Brexiteer.

    ​Boris Johnson has taken a stand as a “hard Brexit” candidate, promising to bring the UK out of the EU by 31 October with or without a deal or face a “catastrophic loss of confidence in politics”.

    Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove have both echoed Mr Johnson’s position. 

    However, Mr Hunt raised concern over Boris Johnson’s Brexit position saying that the final candidate should have three qualities: “The first is it has to be someone the other side trust, because you don’t do a deal with somebody you don’t trust.

    “Secondly, it has got to be someone who doesn’t blink. And thirdly, it has got to be somebody who is prepared to walk away.

    “Now, the danger is that if we choose the wrong person now, we will have no trust, no negotiation, no deal, and possibly, if we have an election, no Brexit.”

    ​Conversely, Rory Stewart has said that no deal is neither a desirable nor possible outcome. Instead, he pledged to get Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement through parliament.

    Theresa May resigned as UK PM following the third consecutive defeat of her withdrawal agreement.

    Mr Stewart told the BBC on Wednesday morning that he had obtained an optimistic level of support from backers of former candidate Dominic Raab.

    ​Boris Johnson is particularly popular among the Tory membership, especially its Brexit voting base. He is largely expected to be the ultimate victor of the race as he has a broad appeal, including among those who may feel disenfranchised by the party over Brexit and inclined to to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

    During the debates, he was challenged on his previous comments, particularly his comparison of veiled women to “letter boxes”, which prompted now former contender Sajid Javid to push for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory Party, to which all contestants agreed.

    All candidates ruled out a pre-Brexit general election during the leadership debate on the Tuesday.

    Conservative Party, Rory Stewart, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson
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