Sajid Javid has been eliminated from the Tory leadership race. He came bottom of the fourth ballot with 34 votes, four down from what he got yesterday. Michael Gove moved into second place, on 61 votes to Jeremy Hunt’s 59. While Boris Johnson received 14 more votes, giving him 157—and the support of an absolute majority of Tory MPs.
The increase in Johnson’s vote suggests that there was tactical voting going on yesterday. It is hard to believe that many, if any, of Stewart’s voters would have switched to him. So, where did those 14 votes come from? I would hazard that they are Brexiteers who voted tactically to eliminate Rory Stewart yesterday and have now moved—or returned—to Boris Johnson.
The race to face Boris Johnson in the runoff remains extremely tight. Gove is, for the first time in this contest, ahead of Hunt. But it is unpredictable how Javid’s 34 votes will split. There is also no question that the Johnson campaign would rather face Hunt than Gove in the final round, so we can’t rule out some of his supporters trying to knock Gove out.