Boris Johnson wins fourth ballot as Jeremy Hunt slips to third place

Michael Gove took second place, as Sajid Javid was eliminated.

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Boris Johnson has won again. In the fourth round of voting for the new Conservative leader, he won by a comfortable margin. This time, he won an absolute majority of the vote, with 157 votes, as Jeremy Hunt slipped to third place, with 59 votes just behind of Michael Gove with 61 votes. Sajid Javid was eliminated.

The result is not particularly surprising: the votes of the eliminated Rory Stewart were never going to fall for Javid, and the expectation was that Gove would do slightly better at picking up Stewart’s supporters than Hunt, due to the perception that Gove will give Johnson a harder ride in the hustings and that Gove is more alive to the threat posed by a hard Brexit than the Union.

But Hunt’s hopes of reaching the final ballot of members aren’t dead yet – among Javid’s supporters, there are plenty of MPs who are more inclined to his politics and approach than they are Gove’s. That Javid appealed to MPs pledging to be a non-destructive opponent to the frontrunner in the ballot of members may mean that his backers now swing behind Hunt, rather than the more combative Gove. Hunt will hope that Gove fails to gain much ground in the next round – or that Team Johnson decide to lend a helping hand to a candidate who they may think will be less belligerent in the final round than Gove.  

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.