Boris Johnson moved even closer to Number 10 today after winning the support of a majority of Tory MPs in the latest round of the Conservative leadership contest.
Michael Gove overtook rival Jeremy Hunt to move into second place after increasing his tally by 10.
Sajid Javid was eliminated from the race after receiving the fewest votes, leaving Mr Gove and Mr Hunt to join Mr Johnson in the final three.
The huge support from Mr Johnson makes it impossible to countenance him not making it through to the last round.
Therefore the real battle is now over who will join him in the last two, one of whom Conservative Party members will select to be the next PM.
The final results were -
Boris Johnson: 157
Michael Gove: 61
Jeremy Hunt: 59
Sajid Javid: 34
This round of voting saw two spoiled ballots, the first time this has happened during the contest.
The final round of voting by Conservative MPs takes place later today, meaning Mr Gove and Mr Hunt face a frantic afternoon of scrambling to hoover up votes from eliminated candidates.
Rory Stewart, who was voted out of the race yesterday, refused to say who he was backing.
He said this morning: “I will not be declaring for anyone today – but I will be voting.”
Mr Johnson denied being involved in ‘dark arts’ to knock Mr Gove out of the race.
There was widespread speculation at Westminster that allies of Mr Johnson were planning to lend support to Sajid Javid, who finished 13 votes behind Mr Gove in the last ballot, in order to force the Environment Secretary out of the race.