There will be fewer candidates for the leadership of Britain’s Conservative Party by the end of Tuesday, with the exact number to be determined by the party’s elected members.
Candidates who do not receive the backing of more than 33 of the 313 Conservative lawmakers in today’s vote will be eliminated. If all candidates have more than 32 votes, the one with the fewest is eliminated.
The result of Tuesday’s second round of voting is due sometime after 1 p.m. ET., and those left standing will participate in a BBC debate tonight.
The candidates who on paper should be most concerned, based on the first round of balloting, are Home Secretary Sajid Javid, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who did each not reach 33 votes.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, with 43 and 37 votes in the first round, respectively, will also anxiously await the results.
The debate on Tuesday night will include front-runner Boris Johnson. Johnson, the former foreign secretary and London mayor, skipped the first debate on June 16.
Johnson — who netted 114 votes in the first round — also stayed away from question-and-answer sessions in parliament that the other five candidates attended on Monday.
Johnson’s rivals hope that during Tuesday’s debate he will commit more of the gaffes that have marked his career.
Additional votes will be held later this week among the legislators as necessary until the top two vote-getters remain.
Barring a major upset, Johnson looks set to be one of the candidates party members will consider when they are mailed a ballot. The mainly pro-Brexit Conservative Party members, some 160,000, will cast the deciding votes in a weeks-long process that will culminate in the announcement of the winner on July 22.
His rivals have stepped up their calls on Johnson to spell out his plans for Brexit in more detail.
“What I find alarming and I want to try to clarify as soon as possible, hopefully in these debates this evening, is that half the people in his campaign have got the impression that he intends to leave on Oct. 31 with no deal,” Stewart told BBC radio.
“And the other half seem to have got the impression that he’s going for the softest of soft Brexits. The only way that we are going to have stability in our government, or our party or our country, is if people trust us.”
Endorsements continue for Johnson
Johnson got a fresh boost on Tuesday when another former rival in the race backed him to lead the country out of its Brexit crisis.
Andrea Leadsom declared her support for Johnson, the clear favourite.
“He is the best placed to get us out of the EU at the end of October,” Leadsom, a former leader of the House of Commons who was eliminated from the contest last week, told LBC radio. “Secondly, I do believe he is an election winner.”
On Monday, health minister Matt Hancock, who quit the race on Friday, also backed Johnson, despite their contrasting views on Brexit.
Johnson says he will take Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31 whether or not there is a deal with Brussels to smooth the transition, potentially setting up a fight with parliament.
Sterling fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in nearly six months as investors worried about the prospect of a big Brexit shock to the world’s fifth-biggest economy.
“It looks like Boris Johnson is going to be the next prime minister unless there is a big surprise and that indicates a looming confrontation with the European Union,” said Lee Hardman, a FX strategist at MUFG in London.
A Bank of England policymaker said he was worried about the risk of capital flight which had grown since the Brexit referendum three years ago.
“Right now, the stock of foreign funding is potentially more flighty than it was in 2016,” Anil Kashyap, a member of the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee, told lawmakers.
Analysts have also said the scale of promises for more spending or tax cuts by many leadership contenders threaten to break Britain’s existing budget targets.
Johnson has promised to cut income tax for high earners while Hunt says he would slash corporation tax. Gove suggests replacing Value Added Tax with a “lower, simpler” sales tax.