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David Cameron denies he's helping Boris Johnson become Conservative leader

David Cameron denies he's helping Boris Johnson become Conservative leader

Despite his absence, Boris Johnson, who picked up 114 votes in the first ballot last week, remains the frontrunner and his campaign has been further boosted by the support of former leadership contender Matt Hancock.

Mr Stewart needs at least 33 MPs to support him in the second round of voting to progress, but only won the support of 19 (including himself) in the first.

Brexit has claimed two prime ministers.

"Having considered all the options, I'm backing Boris Johnson as the best candidate to unite the Conservative Party so we can deliver Brexit and then unite the country behind an open, ambitious, forward-looking agenda, delivered with the energy that gets stuff done", Hancock wrote in an op-ed in The Times of London.

That left the five other candidates to argue over which man was best placed to deliver Brexit in testy exchanges International Development Minister Rory Stewart described as a competition of "machismo".

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Sources close to Cameron - who went to school and university together with Boris - denied he is backing the former Mayor of London. Mr Javid said he should be put through to the vote of party members to decide between the final two candidates because of his different background. Stewart told the BBC.

At a rally on the banks of the River Thames, Mr Stewart unveiled David Lidington - the defacto deputy prime minister - as his most high-profile backer so far.

Mr Leadsom was a leading Brexiteer voice int he Government and her endorsement of Mr Johnson raises questions about the future of fellow hardliner Dominic Raab, who is struggling to remain in the contest. May became prime minister in 2016 without a party vote, after all her rivals dropped out of the race.

Ahead of the second round of voting, the Home Secretary - who is among six MPs vying to replace Theresa May - described himself as "less Homer's Iliad and more Homer Simpson". "He should be here to answer that very question".

He said: "It reminds me of, I was trying to cram a whole series of rubbish bins into the rubbish bin and my wife said, "you're never going to get these three huge bags of rubbish in". At the hustings, Mr Raab hit back at criticism over his refusal to rule out proroguing Parliament to deliver a no-deal Brexit, arguing that suspending the Commons was a "central plank" of Mr Stewart's plan for another vote on the existing deal with the European Union because of a ruling from Commons Speaker John Bercow.


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