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Dominic Raab eliminated from Tory leadership contest as Boris Johnson tops the ballot again

The five Tory leadership candidates who will fight the contest's third round. Credit: PA

Former Brexit minister Dominic Raab has been eliminated from the Tory leadership race, as frontrunner Boris Johnson topped the ballot again in the contest's second round.

Mr Johnson is head and shoulders above the rest with 126 votes from Tory colleagues and Jeremy Hunt in second place is just in front of the others but it's Rory Stewart's success which has raised eyebrows.

After the results were announced, he tweeted: "Thank you all so much! Looking forward to the debate tonight @BBCPolitics #RoryWalksOn"

He added: "And thank you for all the support - we seem to have almost doubled our vote again...more to come...#walkon"

In a video posted on Twitter, Michael Gove said: "I'm really pleased to have got through this round of the Conservative leadership contest, by increasing my support and closing the gap for second place.

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"And I'm now off to the BBC debate where I'll be making the case that we need to have a solid choice in this leadership election between candidates who believe in Brexit and who are capable of delivering it. And above all who can keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street."

Sajid Javid paid tribute to Dominic Raab's "professionalism, drive & fresh ideas".

Mr Javid tweeted: "He has a major role to play with any new PM helping Britain's young people get a fair shot.

"Thank you for your support! Looking forward to tonight's debate with my colleagues and @maitlis. I can lead a Conservative Party which connects with new audiences and creates opportunities for all. #TeamSaj."

The results are as follows: Michael Gove, 41 Jeremy Hunt, 46 Sajid Javid, 33 Boris Johnson, 126 Dominic Raab, 30 Rory Stewart: 37.

Dominic Raab was eliminated from the race. Credit: ITV News

Mr Stewart gained 18 votes more than he received in the last ballot and his success has been attributed to both an energetic campaign and backing from Cabinet ministers.

The International Development Secretary has received the backing of Cabinet Office Minister and de-facto deputy prime minister David Lidington.

Mr Stewart is trying to position himself as the “change” candidate who can defeat Mr Johnson in the July run-off.

Despite only just scraping into the second round, Mr Stewart's support has been slowly growing among Tory MPs and on Tuesday he claimed he had enough support to progress.

He said he was "never confident" but "always hopeful", adding how he believed he had the support of 33 colleagues "if everybody does what they say".

Rory Stewart says he has never been confident but 'always hopeful' of his chances. Credit: PA

Mr Lidington, who had supported Health Secretary Matt Hancock before he quit the race, said Mr Stewart was the right person to best connect the Tory Party with the country.

The Cabinet Office Minister told a pro-Stewart gathering in London: “I think there is a yearning in this country for political leaders who tell it straight to people.

“What Rory has done in his campaign is to demonstrate that there are no no-go areas in this country for him or for the party which he aspires to lead.”

ERG vice-chairman Mark Francois said: "It was great to see Boris going up again - that's obviously encouraging.

When will we know who the new prime minister is? Credit: PA Graphics

"In a sense it's a shame to lose Dominic Raab because he is an extremely capable politician.

"I hope whoever wins - and I hope it's Boris - will find a good place for Dom in his Cabinet."

Speaking ahead of the vote and television debate, Mr Gove said he was "feeling confident" and "looking forward to the debate with the other candidates".

The Environment Secretary continued: "I'm looking forward to making the case for a positive Conservative vision to ensure that we get a good Brexit deal and that we reform this country for the better."

Further votes will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, whittling down the number of candidates from six to two.

After this, the final pair will go head-to-head for votes from the Tory grassroots, with 160,000 postal ballots sent out to the party's membership.

Dominic Raab is now out of the race. Credit: PA

On Tuesday morning, Mr Johnson's campaign got a boost of support from former leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom, who threw her weight behind the former foreign secretary.

“He [Mr Johnson] is the best placed to get us out of the EU at the end of October... and secondly he is an election winner," the former leader of the Commons said.

Earlier this week, former candidate Matt Hancock also backed the ex-mayor of London.

Mr Johnson, who topped the initial poll with 114 votes, refused to take part in hustings with journalists on Monday, or in a televised Channel 4 debate on Sunday, but is set to join rivals for a candidates’ debate on the BBC on Tuesday.