POLITICS
14/06/2019 10:59 BST | Updated 14/06/2019 11:23 BST

Matt Hancock Quits Conservative Party Leadership Contest

And then there were six.

PA Wire/PA Images

Matt Hancock has quit the Conservative Party leadership contest after he came sixth in the first round of voting.

The health secretary said he had run as the “candidate of the future” but had accepted the party wanted something else.

He won only 20 votes from Tory MPs in the first ballot which was held on Thursday.

In an indication he has yet to decide who to throw his support behind, the 40-year-old said he would “talk to all the other candidates”.

There are now six remaining candidates in the race and Hancock has not ruled out backing frontrunner Boris Johnson.

Hancock’s decision comes as rival candidates fight to become the anti-Boris choice when the contest is narrowed to the final two.

In a statement, Hancock said: “I’m hugely grateful for the warm and enthusiastic support I’ve received throughout this campaign, and am proud of the way we managed to set the agenda by promoting new ideas to make people’s lives better.

“I ran as the candidate of the future, but the Party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now. 

“I have therefore decided to withdraw from this contest, and I will look for the best way to advance the values we fought for, of free enterprise, and an open, aspirational, free society, underpinned by an optimistic belief in the value of each individual person. 

“I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward.” 

Result of the first ballot

Boris Johnson: 114
Jeremy Hunt: 43
Michael Gove: 37
Dominic Raab: 27
Sajid Javid: 23
Matt Hancock: 20
Rory Stewart: 19
Andrea Leadsom: 11 (Eliminated)
Mark Harper: 10 (Eliminated)
Esther McVey: 9 (Eliminated)

The second round of voting will take place on Tuesday June 18 where the remaining candidates will need 33 votes to stay in the contest. 

If all the contenders reach this threshold the one with the fewest votes is eliminated.

The voting continues until just two remain. Further ballots are scheduled to take place on Wednesday June 19 and Thursday June 20.

The final two will then campaign around the country for the votes of Conservative Party members - with the winner announced on July 22.