(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Dominic Raab has been eliminated from the contest to be Britain's next prime minister after the second round of voting by Conservative MPs, but the outsider Rory Stewart will go forward.
As expected, Boris Johnson topped the poll, the 126 votes he garnered cementing his lead over rivals and underlining the sense that his progress to Downing Street is now all but unstoppable.
Raab, a former Brexit secretary, won just 30 votes, below the 33 vote threshold to stay in.
The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, survived with 33 votes but found himself outflanked by Cabinet newcomer Stewart, who was backed by 37 MPs.
The five remaining men will now take part in a live leadership debate on the BBC. Stewart, the international development secretary who began the contest as an outsider, picked up more support after what was widely regarded as a strong performance in Sunday's TV debate on Channel 4.
The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, came in second, with 46 votes, and still looks the most likely challenger to Johnson as the contest reaches its final stages. The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, received 41 votes.
Hunt has repeatedly highlighted his background as an entrepreneur, claiming it will stand him in good stead to negotiate a better Brexit deal.
His team had staunchly rejected rumours circulating in Westminster earlier yesterday that Johnson's outriders had been urging colleagues to lend their votes to Hunt because he was their preferred opponent.
Johnson has the former defence secretary Gavin Williamson and the former Tory party chair Grant Schapps working Westminster on his behalf.
He has won over hard Brexiters by promising to take Britain out of the EU by October 31 'with or without a deal, but has also played up his one-nation credentials to appeal to his party's liberal wing.
The former foreign secretary has gained increasing support as the contest has gathered pace in recent days; the former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom became the latest senior figure to endorse him yesterday.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who withdrew from the contest on Friday after receiving 20 votes, has also thrown his weight behind Johnson.
MPs will vote again today, and if necessary tomorrow, until the field is narrowed down to just two names, which will then be offered to Conservative members in a postal ballot. The result will be announced in the week beginning July 22.