Boris Johnson has been urged by Cabinet minister Amber Rudd to publicly come out against “game-playing” in the Tory leadership race.
Conservative MPs will decide on Thursday which two candidates will make the run-off in which 160,000 party members choose the next Prime Minister of the country, with Mr Johnson, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove in the running.
Amid reports that supporters of the former foreign secretary may vote tactically to try and knock Michael Gove out of the competition, Ms Rudd told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a serious moment. We don’t need that sort of game-playing going on in Parliament.”
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Voting has closed in the fourth round of the Tory leadership ballot, with the results expected at about 1pm.
Justice Secretary David Gauke, who previously backed Rory Stewart for the leadership, refused to say who he voted for when he left the ballot room.
Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove have both voted. Mr Hunt said he was “confident but not over confident” while Mr Gove claimed he was looking forward to being in the final two.
Asked who she voted for, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I have answered this question the same way every time I have come out, and I think you know the same answer today, you can probably chant it with me in unison – none of your business.”
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson appears certain to make it through to the next stage of the process, having topped the ballot in each of the three rounds of the contest so far and securing the votes of 143 of the 313 Tory MPs.
Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid also remain in the contest, but two rounds of voting on Thursday – the first announced at 1pm – will whittle the field down to a final pairing.
At each round, the MP with the lowest total will be eliminated, with the final announcement due to be made at 6pm.