Boris Johnson on Thursday won the first round of MPs’ vote for the new Conservative leader and UK Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson defeated his closest rival, Jeremy Hunt who secured 43 votes as against Johnson’s 114 votes.
Coming in at third place is Michael Gove with 37 votes.
Mr Johnson’s tally took him beyond the 105 required in the final round of MPs’ votes next week in order to progress to the postal ballot of 160,000 party members which will select the final winner.
Outsiders Esther McVey, 9 votes, Andrea Leadsom, 11 votes, and Mark Harper, 10 votes were knocked out after failing to meet the threshold of 17 votes required to progress to the next round of voting on Tuesday, but international development secretary Rory Stewart scraped through with 19.
READ ALSO: WHO WILL SUCCEED THERESA MAY?
The result, announced by joint acting chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Dame Cheryl Gillan in a Westminster committee room, put former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab on 27 votes and home secretary Sajid Javid on 23 votes.
The result will spark frenzied horse-trading and deal-making in the corridors and backrooms of Westminster, as the all-male roster of surviving candidates try to woo supporters of their eliminated rivals.
MPs will whittle down contenders to a shortlist of two by the end of next week, after which the new prime minister will be selected towards the end of July by party members.