Johnson vs Gove: Matt Hancock in talks as he decides who to support in the leadership race

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The Health Secretary, who withdrew from the race yesterday, is likely to endorse the frontrunner or his rival, The Sun reported. Mr Hancock is currently in talks with the six remaining candidates before making his final choice next week, sources said. His withdrawal from the race comes after the first vote which showed Mr Johnson leap ahead of others with 114 votes.

Mr Hancock took to Twitter last night to thank people for their support.

He said: “A massive thank you for all the lovely messages of support today from people all over the country.

“I will never stop fighting for the values I believe in and I won’t let you down.”

Mr Hancock voted to Remain in the EU but has since stressed the need to get on with Brexit.

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The news comes after Mr Johnson’s team called on MPs who they described as “vanity candidates” to pull out of the race.

A prominent supporter of Mr Johnson took aim at both Mr Hancock, Mr Javid as well as Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart: “The race is between Boris, Hunt and Gove. Anyone else who tries to carry on is being indulgent.”

Any withdrawals would speed up the election, with results currently expected in the week beginning July 22nd.

The final two in the race after the Parliamentary Conservative ballots have finished will square off in a member’s vote.

Mr Johnson’s nearest rival Jeremy Hunt won 43 votes, just ahead of Michael Gove on 37 in the ballots.

Following the vote, Mr Johnson said: “Thank you to my friends and colleagues.

“I am delighted to win the first ballot, but we have a long way to go.”

Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Esther McVey, on 11, 10 and nine votes respectively, were eliminated after failing to reach the 17-vote threshold for a place on next Tuesday’s second ballot.

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