It's Boris Johnson's to lose as field down to five
Boris Johnson strengthened his position at the head of the Tory leadership race with a resounding win in the second ballot.
A total of 126 Conservative MPs backed Mr Johnson in the vote, which saw Dominic Raab eliminated after failing to get the 33 votes required to stay in the race.
Jeremy Hunt also made it through to the next round with 46 votes, as did Michael Gove with 41 and Sajid Javid with the bare minimum 33.
Rory Stewart, the outsider at the start of the process, gained 18 votes to go through on 37.
It now seems almost impossible to imagine that Mr Johnson will not make the final two, which will be finalised at the end of the week before the party’s 160,000 members get to vote for the new leader.
He had topped last week’s first ballot with 114 votes.
It came after Mr Johnson’s campaign received a triple boost, with Andrea Leadsom pledging her support, as well as former de facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green and former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch.
Ms Leadsom, who was knocked out of the contest in the first round of voting, said: “I think he will be a very good leader for our country.”
Explaining her support for Mr Johnson, she described him as an “election winner” and also referred to Brexit, saying: “I think he is the best placed to get us out of the EU at the end of October.
“His view and mine is very closely aligned there.”
The result of the ballot will be welcomed by the majority of Shropshire’s MP’s, with three out of five having backed Mr Johnson.
Mark Pritchard who represents the Wrekin, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham, and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson have all supported the former London Mayor.
Ludlow MP and former health minister Philip Dunne has supported Mr Hunt, as has Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies, while Telford MP Lucy Allan has backed current Home Secretary Mr Javid.
Mr Johnson’s bid has been spearheaded by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, who maintains he is the only candidate who can deliver Brexit and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.
But elsewhere across the Black Country and Staffordshire there was support for every candidate. Dudley South MP Mike Wood is in Mr Javid’s camp.
Stourbridge MP Margot James originally supported Matt Hancock but turned to Mr Stewart after the Health Secretary dropped out.
She described Mr Stewart as “energetic, determined and embracing the centre ground”, adding: “I will support him for next PM.”
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant pledged his support for Mr Gove, although he said he would also be happy if Mr Johnson becomes leader.
Eddie Hughes, the MP for Walsall North, had backed Mr Raab, describing him as “the only candidate with a credible plan to get us out of the EU by October 31”.
Mr Javid, the MP for Bromsgrove, had warned that the race risked looking like a debate at the Oxford Union if the final candidates are all from similar backgrounds.
Ahead of the second round of voting he described himself as “less Homer’s Iliad and more Homer Simpson”.
Mr Javid, the state-school educated son of a Pakistani bus driver, has a background which is in stark contrast to rivals including Old Etonians Mr Johnson and Mr Stewart.
He said: “If we end up in a situation where the final two, three, four even, are people from similar backgrounds with similar life experiences, it will look like a debate at the Oxford Union and I just don’t think that’s healthy for the Tory Party.”
Mr Stewart said he has "no problem" being the "stop Boris" candidate, as he said he would "love" to go against Mr Johnson in the final two.
The remaining candidates went head-to-head in a televised leadership debate on BBC1 last night.