Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, increased his lead in the second round of voting for Conservative Party leader on Tuesday, while former Brexit minister Dominic Raab was knocked out of the race.
Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister, won 126 votes, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in second place on 46 votes and environment minister Michael Gove third with 41 votes.
The international development minister Rory Stewart was fourth on 37 votes and the interior minister Sajid Javid was fifth on 33 votes, as hardline Brexiteer Raab was eliminated after he failed to receive the required minimum of 33 votes.
The remaining candidates will face further votes on Wednesday and Thursday to whittle down the contest to two, when Conservative members will decide who will become leader, and Britain's next prime minister.
Once the list is whittled down to two candidates, a postal ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership will be held to pick a leader. A new prime minister should be chosen by the end of July.
Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister, says he will take Britain out of the European Union by October 31 whether or not there is a deal with Brussels to smooth the transition, potentially setting up a fight with parliament.
Johnson, whose unconventional style has helped him shrug off a series of scandals in the past, has won over much of his party by arguing that only he can rescue it by delivering Brexit.
FRANCE 24 - REUTERS