Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt made the final two in the race for moving into 10 Downing Street following the defeat for Sajid Javid and Gove after Thursday’s vote.
Johnson’s team have faced claims of tactical voting as it has been suggested that some MP’s switched their vote to prevent Mr Gove from reaching the final two.
Johnson has a bitter history with Gove, who betrayed him in the last leadership campaign.
Suspicions were raised after the results of the fifth round were announced. Hunt had only narrowly beaten Gove by two votes and Johnson’s vote had increased by a mere three, despite at least four MP’s giving their public support to Johnson following Mr Javid’s elimination.
It has been suggested that Johnson’s team see Hunt as less of a challenge to beat for leadership and that some MP’s may have switched their vote to Hunt in an attempt to purposefully eliminate senior leave campaign figure, Gove.
Johnson’s team have denied allegations of lending votes and tactical strategy to end Gove’s campaign.
What is clear this time round is that Boris Johnson is not taking any chances and will not risk an opponent who may out manoeuvre him again.
Although, Mr Gove’s campaign manager (under party scrutiny) dismissed allegations, in public at least, of vote switching as they fail to see a large number of votes being transferred between Johnson and Hunt, saying, “ It doesn’t seem to me on first observation of this, that there has been”.
Adding, “It would appear to me everybody has behaved pretty much as one would hope they would”.
Compared to Mr Hunt’s 77 votes, Johnson gained backing from 160 MP’s – over half of the total. He remains the front-runner in the bid for leadership, Hunt acknowledges he is the “underdog” but tweeted his promise to give Johnson “the fight of his life” over the next few weeks and said “surprises happen” within politics.
Johnson and Hunt now have until late July to convince the party’s 160,000 members to vote for them. They are set to face a series of hustings around the country for party members- beginning this Sunday in Birmingham. Hunt and Johnson will take part in an ITV live debate on July 9.
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