Tory MPs are preparing to hold the first ballot of the party’s leadership contest, after opposition MPs lost a critical vote to prevent a future Conservative prime minister from forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

Candidates need at least 17 votes to go through to the second round, with anyone below this threshold automatically eliminated.

However, even if all the hopefulls meet the target, the one with the lowest votes overall will still have to leave the race.

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Based on the latest bookmakers’ odds, those at risk of ending up with the lowest number of votes overall are Esther McVey (130/1) and Mark Harper (160/1).

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All 313 Conservative MPs can take part in today’s ballot meaning there are, in theory, enough votes up for grabs for each of the 10 candidates to reach the 17-vote threshold.

Parliament may have run out of options to block a no-deal Brexit by the next prime minister, Conservative former minister Sir Oliver Letwin has warned.

The Commons voted yesterday to reject a Labour motion, backed by other opposition parties, which would have enabled MPs to take control of the business of the House with a view to preventing a no-deal.


Sir Oliver, who was behind a series of cross-party attempts to block a no-deal, said there may be no more opportunities for Parliament to intervene.


“Under the Article 50 process, on 31 October the UK leaves the EU regardless of whether we do or don’t have a deal in place unless somebody does something to alter that,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.


“If the government doesn’t bring something before Parliament, Parliament won’t have a chance to take a view on that as things currently stand because we have run out of all the possibilities any of us can, at the moment anyway, think of for Parliament to be able to insist on having a view.


“I have really struggled very hard to think of every available opportunity and I can’t currently think of any more.”

Today’s ballot will take place between 10am and 12pm, with the results due to be announced at 1pm.

It comes as Labour lost a critical vote on a bid to prevent a future Tory prime minister from forcing through a no-deal Brexit. 
Lizzy Buchan has the story: 

Good morning and welcome to The Independent‘s live coverage of the first ballot to select the new Tory leader.


Here’s how it works: Candidates need at least 17 votes to go through to the second round. Anyone below this threshold is automatically eliminated. Even if all the hopefuls meet this target, the one with the lowest votes overall will still have to exit the race.

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