The 313 Conservative MPs sitting in the Commons are called to cast their ballot at 10am today, in what marks the first real test of this contest. Any of the 10 candidates failing to secure at least 17 votes will be eliminated from the race. Five Tory hopefuls are believed to have long gathered the required support – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid.
And last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock seemed to have made it over the line, becoming the sixth Tory MP to secure a place in the next round, according to Politico.
The remaining four, Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Rory Stewart, could be forced out of the contest if they fail to convince enough MPs to back them within hours.
But, as the vote is secret and more than a quarter of the MPs eligible to vote haven’t yet publicly backed anyone, everyone still has a chance to go through the second stage of the contest.
READ MORE: Brussels terrified of Boris Johnson claims Brexit minister – ‘formidable opponent’
Tory leadership hopefuls are facing the first round of vote today
The next round of votes, which will likely take place next week, will eliminate from the contest those who can’t gather the support of at least 33 MPs.
But if all candidates pass this benchmark, the party will eliminate the person with the fewest votes.
The third round of the race will see members of the Conservative Party have their say via a postal vote.
The leader replacing Theresa May will be announced by July 22.
Today’s vote is taking place following the new rules agreed by the Conservative Party earlier this month, agreed to speed up the contest.
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Tory leadership race: Dates to remember
9.30am update: Boris Johnson faces Tory favourites’ curse
Tory MPs starting a leadership contest as the favourites have historically failed to take the crown, a political historian pointed out.
Boris Johnson is currently the favourite among the 10 Tory leader hopefuls.
But this position may turn out to be a curse for him.
Tim Bale, a political historian at Queen Mary, University of London, told the Financial Times: “The failure of the frontrunner to win the race is a thread that runs through every Tory leadership contest.
“Why the Tory race is nearly always so much more volatile is a really intriguing question.”
On the other hand, Mr Bale added, Labour leadership contests are usually more straightforward, with those deemed to be heavily favourite since the start usually being elected as leaders.
9.12am update: Tory MPs to hand in phones before vote to avoid feeling ‘pressured’
Tory MPs voting today will be asked to hand in their phones before casting their ballot, amid claims they could be “pressured” to take a picture showing who they have supported during the first stage of the contest.
The decision to ban phones was announced this week by Charles Walker, acting chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, who said he doesn’t want MPs to feel any “pressure” when they cast their secret ballot.
Bernard Jenkin, a member of the 1922 executive, said previous Tory leadership contests had seen MPs being urged to prove how they voted.
He said: “It’s the kind of thing Putin would get his henchmen to organise.”
Tory leadership race: Who would you support as Prime Minister
8.55am update: Michael Gove faces legal action over post-Brexit deregulation of pesticides
Michael Gove faces legal action from an eco-charity which accused the Environment Secretary of using his ministerial powers to “delete” regulations regarding dangerous pesticides, the Huffington Post wrote.
The charity, Chem Trust, said Mr Gove tabled a last-minute amendment to the Brexit legislation which “substantially weakens” Britan’s law regarding pesticides.
Chem Trust has now hired legal firm Leigh Day and sent a letter to the minister to warn him about their intentions.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the Huffington Post it was “promptly addressing” a “drafting error” in the legislation and insisted protections would be maintained “in full”.
Kate Young, Brexit campaigner at Chem Trust, said: “Chem Trust finds it shocking that a detailed analysis of the laws that the Government claimed would copy-over EU environmental and health protections actually finds that a number of key protections, including against endocrine disrupting pesticides, have been deleted.
“The Government must amend these laws now, to re-introduce these protections, otherwise we may have to proceed with the next stage of this legal process, a full judicial review.
“We have recently seen worrying statements from the US on how the EU’s criteria for identifying EDCs in pesticides could disrupt trade and urge the UK Government against relaxing vital environmental protections in the pursuit of future free trade agreements.”
Michael Gove is facing legal action from eco-charity Chem TRust
8.43am update: Boris Johnson to gather dozens of votes
Out of the 313 Conservative Party MPs, 79 have so far publicly backed Boris Johnson, making him the favourite in the race, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The former Foreign Secretary is followed by Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, with 31 declared supporters.
They are followed by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has been publicly backed by 29 MPs.
Other Tory hopefuls who are believed to have gathered more than the required 17 supporters to go through the first stage are Dominic Raab, with 22 votes, Sajid Javid with 18 votes and Matt Hancock with 15.
Boris Johnson launched his campaign yesterday
8.20am update: Matt Hancock says he can beat Jeremy Corbyn
Tory leader hopeful Matt Hancock claimed he could beat Jeremy Corbyn at the next general elections by turning pace and leaving behind the “rancour” he says has been gripping British politics in the past months.
He told the Guardian: “Of course we’ve got to deliver Brexit; but then we’ve got to win a majority by appealing to aspirational people in the centre ground of British politics, where there’s a gaping hole.
“I can turn the page from the rancour that we’ve seen in politics in the past few years: because I’ve been concentrating on delivering in government, getting stuff done, rather than the bitter Brexit rows.”
The Health Secretary added that he could win back the votes of those who in the European elections have backed the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party.
He said: “The Conservative Party’s always been a broad church, and I can appeal better than any of the other candidates to the centre ground to unite the country, and to voters who will ultimately deliver a majority so we can really get things moving.
“There are some candidates who won’t be able to bring the Conservative party with them, and there are others who will find it more difficult to reach into the centre ground.
“I think I’m best placed to be able to do both.”
Matt Hancock said he could win back the trust of former Tory voters
8.06am update: Boost for Boris! Theresa May’s former right-hand man backs Brexiteer for Tory leadership
Theresa May former joint Chief of Staff Nick Timothy has backed bookies favourite Boris Johnson for the Conservative party leadership.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph Mr Timothy said: “Despite his flaws and indiscretions, and despite the qualities of the other candidates, Boris alone has the belief in Brexit, the determination to deliver it, and the ability to defeat Labour in an election.”
Mr Timothy agreed with Mr Johnson’s remarks that the party would face “extinction” if Brexit is delayed beyond October 31.
He explained: “The Tories simply have to get Brexit done. If they do not, they face destruction as an electoral force.
“But even if Brexit happens, they face electoral upheaval, because some Remain-supporting Conservatives will inevitably take their votes elsewhere.”