Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary who helped lead the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, continued his progress towards the top job on Thursday when he trounced his rivals again in the race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May.
In a fourth ballot of Conservative lawmakers, which elimated home secretary Sajid Javid, Johnson was again way out in front of his rivals. The result of a fifth and final ballot is due at 1700 GMT on Thursday.
Johnson, who served as London mayor for eight years, has cast himself as the only candidate who can deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 while fighting off the electoral threats of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
Despite a series of scandals in the past and criticism about his attention to detail, Johnson has dominated the race since May announced a month ago that she would step down after repeatedly failing to get her Brexit deal ratified by parliament.
Johnson, 55, has increased his share of the vote of Conservative lawmakers at each of the four ballots so far: 114 out of 313 votes in the first ballot on June 13, 126 on June 18, 143 on Wednesday and 157 on Thursday.
Environment minister Michael Gove was second with 61 votes and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt third with 59. Javid got 34.
After the final lawmakers’ ballot leaves just two candidates remaining, around 160,000 Conservative Party grassroots members will vote on who will be their leader – and Britain’s next prime minister – by the end of July. Bookmakers give Johnson an 89% probability of winning.
Johnson has pledged to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. The EU has said it will not renegotiate the divorce deal that May agreed last year and the British parliament has indicated it will block a no-deal exit.