Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid is the latest Conservative figure to drop out of the race to be Britain’s next prime minister, receiving just 34 votes in the fourth secret ballot of the party’s 313 MPs.
Boris Johnson maintains his lead at the head of the field, having received 157 votes, 96 ahead of his nearest rival, now Michael Gove, who currently has the support of 61 Conservative MPs.
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has been second in the race since the first ballot, came third in the latest round with 59 votes.
Whoever wins the competition to become the leader of the Conservatives, the party that is currently in power, becomes by default the next prime minister of Britain as the country prepares to leave the European Union, or Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month formally stepped down as party leader after her authority to govern collapsed following several failed attempts to win parliament’s approval for a negotiated deal to leave the EU.
The MPs will have one more secret vote on Thursday afternoon to whittle the candidates down to the final two. The choice of who will lead the country of some 65 million people will then be put to the 160,000 members of the Conservative Party in a month-long postal vote.
Javid is a second-generation migrant to Britain, whose parents came from Pakistan. As home secretary, he has presided over a crackdown on immigration, enforcing rules that, had they been in place, would have prevented his father from entering the United Kingdom.
A former banker, reportedly at one point on a $3m annual salary, he became an MP (annual salary $100,000) in 2010.
He has described himself as a “reluctant Remainer”, being a Eurosceptic on the whole, while believing that Britain is better off as a member of the EU.
The result of the postal ballot of all Conservative Party members will be announced in the week of July 22.
Al Jazeera and news agencies