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Rory Stewart eliminated in third round of Tory leadership contest

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Wednesday 19 Jun 2019

(Sharecast News) - UK International Development Secretary Rory Stewart was eliminated from the Conservative Party leadership contest on Wednesday, leaving four contenders to succeed Theresa May as prime minister.
Stewart came last with 27 votes, 10 fewer than last time. Boris Johnson topped the vote again with 143 votes, 17 more than last time. Jeremy Hunt came second with 54, Michael Gove got 51 and Sajid Javid 38.

After the vote Stewards said his warnings about a no-deal Brexit "probably proved to be truths people weren't quite ready to hear".

There will be a fourth round of voting on Thursday.

There were suggestions circulating on Wednesday night that some of of those supporting Stewart in the second round had done so to take votes off the hardline Brexiteer Dominic Raab, who was eliminated. The former Brexit Secretary had been seen as a threat to Johnson.

Stewart declined to be drawn on how his votes had plunged overnight.

"All sorts of things might be happening in strange secret ballots," he said. "But in the end the question for our country is bigger than that."

Meanwhile, it also emerged that finance minister Philip Hammond was set to warn that the incoming prime minister would be forced to abandon spending plans if the UK accelerates towards a no-deal Brexit.

The warning, apparently directed at Johnson, was set to be delivered in Hammond's Mansion House speech on Thursday.

Pro-EU Hammond is likely to lose his job if Johnson is elected. He was expected to tell business leaders that any leadership candidate must have a plan B if renegotiations with the EU fail, or their "job will be on the line".

He will say the two "core, unshakeable, beliefs" of the Conservative party are under threat - meaning belief in prudent management of public finances and in the four nations of the UK, the Guardian reported without citing sources.

"There is a choice. Either we leave with no deal ... or we preserve our future fiscal space. We cannot do both," Hammond is expected to say.

Johnson's plan to raise the 40% tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000 is said to cost £14.1bn. Michael Gove's promise to scrap VAT and replace it with a lower sales tax has been estimated at £20bn. Sajid Javid has said he would back slowing the pace of debt reduction to use up to £25bn a year for spending, including on education.

"There is a choice. Either we leave with no deal ... or we preserve our future fiscal space. We cannot do both," Hammond is expected to say.

He will also warn that any candidate planning to use no deal as their plan B will be risking a general election. It will be "an immutable truth" that parliament has rejected the current deal, as well as no deal, and that the EU will not countenance renegotiation, he will say.

"The question to the candidates is not 'what is your plan?' but 'what is your plan B? If your plan A is undeliverable not having a plan B is like not having a plan at all. So, the candidates need to be honest with the public," he is expected to say.

"We cannot allow ourselves to be forced to choose between our democracy and our prosperity. If the new prime minister cannot end the deadlock in parliament, then he will have to explore other democratic mechanisms to break the impasse. Because if he fails, his job will be on the line - and so, too, will the jobs and prosperity of millions of our fellow citizens."


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