Rory Stewart was eliminated from the race to Number 10, as front-runner Boris Johnson strengthened his position as front runner.

The former foreign secretary managed 143 votes in the third secret ballot to chose the next Conservative leader 17 more than in the first round, with current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt second with 54.

Boris Johnson's campaign had earlier received a boost, gaining support from former Brexit Secretary Mr Raab, who dropped out of the race to Number 10 at the second round.

But it was the international development secretary Rory Stewart, the only clear objector to a no-deal Brexit,  who dropped out with 27 votes - ten fewer than in the second round.

The rank outsider at the start of the process said his warnings about a no-deal Brexit "probably proved to be truths people weren't quite ready to hear".

Environment secretary Michael Gove got 51 while home secretary Sajid Javid had 38.


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The latest vote means that Mr Johnson now has 45% of the Conservative MPs' backing -  up from 40% in the second round. He had the support of around one in three of the MPs in the first round.

It means that Mr Hunt, Mr Gove and Mr Javid join Mr Johnson in the next round of voting.

From the chasing pack it was Mr Gove who gained most, with ten more MPs taking his side from the second round.  Mr Hunt's support amongst MPs rose by eight, while Mr Javid gained five.

Mr Stewart said he was "disappointed" by his exit and the fact his party "didn't seem ready to hear his message" about Brexit and the need to seek out the centre ground.

He said his arguments during the campaign that an alternative Brexit deal was not on offer from the EU, and a no deal would be catastrophic, were "probably truths people were not quite ready to hear, but I still think they are truths".


He defended his attacks on Mr Johnson to the BBC saying the gravity of the situation meant it was right to warn that the frontrunner risked "letting down" his supporters over Brexit.

"These are the times to ask these questions, but I agree they are uncomfortable questions," he said.

"People felt they were exposing divisions in the party they were not comfortable with.

"My conclusion is that you don't unify a family or a party by pretending to agree when you disagree. You unify through honesty and trust."

Voting got under way at 3pm, with the ballot closing at 5pm. The results arrived at just after 6pm.

Before the result, Mr Hunt, asked if he had enough supporters to survive the round, said: "I think so."

Mr Javid, who only just survived the second round of voting said he was "quietly confident" this time.

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Hours before the third ballot opened, Rory Stewart said he was in talks with his rival Michael Gove about "combining forces".

However, the environment secretary's team rejected the idea he would run a joint ticket with Mr Stewart at the top.

A YouGov poll had Rory Stewart as the clear winner of last night's leadership candidates debate, while an Opinium poll placed Boris Johnson narrowly ahead of Mr Stewart.