Rory Stewart bookies' second favourite to be next prime minister

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart is now the bookies' second favourite to become the next Prime Minister.

The International Development Secretary has overtaken Jeremy Hunt, according to online bookmakers Betfair.

It comes after former Conservative Party leadership candidate Matt Hancock backed Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister, boosting the former mayor of London's campaign.

Five of six MPs hoping to become the next Tory party leader participated in a Channel 4 debate last night.

Candidates taking part were Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart. Current frontrunner Boris Johnson did not make an appearance.

At 11am this morning the odds were:

  • Boris Johnson – 1/6

  • Rory Stewart – 9/1

  • Jeremy Hunt – 18/1

  • Michael Gove – 33/1

  • Dominic Raab - 50/1

  • Sajid Javid – 50/1

The televised debate was the first to be held in the contest. Credit: PA

The MPs clashed over whether a new deal could be renegotiated with the EU and if parliament should be shut down in order for a no-deal Brexit to be pushed through by 31 October.

All candidates, except the Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart, would be prepared to leave without a deal.

He said Brussels did not see it as a credible threat because the EU was aware of the damage it would do the UK.

"We are not going to get a different deal from Europe," he said.

Mr Javid said it was a "complete nonsense" to take away the threat of no deal although he acknowledged not enough had been done to prepare for it.

The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March, but agreements were made to delay the date to October after MPs continuously rejected former Prime minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.