BORIS Johnson today won a boost over cocaine shame leadership rival Michael Gove as top Leavers and Remainers backed him to be the next PM.
The Tory big beast won the support of ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith – cementing his position as the top Brexiteer in the race.
And Remain-backing MPs also said they'd vote for Boris because Britain needs a "radical" solution to the political deadlock.
Michael Gove is fighting to save his chances of victory with personal jabs at BoJo after he was forced to admit taking cocaine – leading to a slide in his support with Jeremy Hunt overtaking him.
Two days before the first round of the Tory leadership election:
- Boris Johnson opened talks with Britain's top mandarin to ensure he's ready to become PM
- Sajid Javid pointed to his humble background and vowed to expand opportunities for all
- Matt Hancock pledged to tax bookies to fight gambling addiction
- Andrea Leadsom insisted leaving the EU on October 31 is a "hard red line"
- Rory Stewart called himself a "Trumpian anti-Trump" thanks to his unorthodox campaign
- Mark Harper claimed it is now impossible to quit the EU on time
Mr Johnson now has more than 60 MPs publicly backing him as he pulls away from the rest of the pack.
IDS, one of the party's best-known Brexiteers, today became the latest senior figure to support him.
He told talkRADIO: "I’m fed up with people being miserable and Brexit being about damage limitation. What we need to do is get it done."
And respected Justice Minister Robert Buckland, who voted Remain, also announced he will back Boris.
He told Sky News: "I'm sticking my neck out here, I could have taken the safe option and done something conventional.
"Unless something radical happens politics may change for the worse."
In a further sign of Mr Johnson's status as the leading candidate, The Times reported that Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill has already started talking to him about the policies he would implement in No10.
Opponents of the frontrunner have stepped up their fierce criticism of him in a bid to limit his lead.
Europe Minister Alan Duncan said a BoJo Government "would be pretty helter-skelter", adding: "All of us who worked with him in the Foreign Office are backing other people."
Nick Boles, who quit the Tories over Brexit earlier this year, blasted: "Striking that all the worst people in the Conservative parliamentary party are backing the candidate who seems most likely to win.
"I suspect that some of his more sensible supporters are heading for a major disappointment."
And Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson, who supports Mr Javid, said: "Saj is not a cookie-cutter politician, he's not from central casting – he's not from Eton and Oxbridge, he pulled himself up.
"It needs people who are sound, who are solid, who've got a record they can be proud of."
Timetable of Tory leadership election which will pick new PM
June 7: Theresa May stood down as party leader but will continue as PM until her successor is elected
June 10: Nominations for the leadership closed with ten candidates entering the race
June 13: First ballot of MPs, open 10am-12pm; any candidate with fewer than 13 votes eliminated
June 18: Second ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; any candidate with fewer than 33 votes eliminated
June 19: Third ballot (if needed), open 3pm-5pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated
June 20: Fourth ballot (if needed), open 10am-12pm; candidate with fewest votes eliminated – any further ballots needed will also take place on this day
June 22: Second stage begins where votes shift from MPs to party activists who will choose between final two candidates
July 22: Result announced this week, in time for Commons recess to begin
The Home Secretary today launched his own campaign with a video touting his background growing up in a working-class immigrant family.
He said: "I got into politics because I wanted to give back to our country, which has given me so many opportunities."
Mr Hancock, the Health Secretary, promised to hold a Commons vote on Brexit within days of becoming PM if he wins the race.
He insisted that would persuade Brussels to tweak the existing deal knowing that it would then have the support to get through Parliament.
Launching her campaign in Westminster, Mrs Leadsom said: "The next Prime Minister must have a clear plan for a managed exit by October 31."
Mr Harper, the former Chief Whip who is a 200/1 outsider, said at his launch that "it is not going to be possible" to leave before Halloween, claiming a further Brexit delay is now inevitable.
Tory candidates pledge £84bn spending spree as they compete for No10
TORY candidates vying for the top job in No10 have been blasted for promising billions of pounds worth of spending and tax cuts.
The race officially began to be the next PM last night, with ten candidates putting their names forward.
But several of them have already been trying to woo over MPs and the public with wildly expensive policies.
Research from leadership hopeful Rory Stewart showed £84billion has been promised so far, with more set to come.
Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove have all promised tax cuts if they come into office – with a multi-billion pound price tag.
Outsider candidate Mr Stewart urged his colleagues not to make promises they just can't keep – and accused them of acting just like Jeremy Corbyn by vowing huge blowout.
He blasted: "We must restore – for Britain, and for the Conservative Party – our reputation for economic and fiscal prudence. We simply cannot make spending and tax cut promises that we can’t keep".
"This number – of total spending promises by other candidates in this campaign – is eye-watering. We have to be straight with people, truthful on Brexit, and truthful on spending.
"We have to think about the next fifteen years, not the next fifteen days, not what works to get elected in a leadership contest".
"Under my leadership we will be realistic, prudent and sensible."
And he added: "Cheap electoral bribes could cost us dear. Our members are smarter than this."
Gove – replace VAT with sales tax – £20billion a year estimated cost
Hunt – cut corporation tax to 12.5% – £11billion a year estimated cost
Javid – Scrap top rate of tax – £0.7billion a year estimated cost
Johnson – Raise 40% income tax threshold to £80,000 – £14.1billion a year cost
Raab – Raise NI threthold to £12,500 – £11.2billion a year cost
Raab – Scrap stamp duty tax on all homes under £500k – £4.5billion a year cost
Raab – cut basic rate of income tax by 5% – £22.5billion estimated cost
Last night Tory bosses confirmed that ten candidates had been successfully nominated for the leadership.
Their first ballot box test will come on Thursday lunchtime when MPs vote on who should stay in the contest.
Any candidate with fewer than 17 supporters will be eliminated – the others will go through to the second ballot next Tuesday.
I'm Britain's Trump, longshot contender Rory Stewart boasts
TORY leadership contender Rory Stewart today compared himself to Donald Trump because of his unorthodox campaign.
The International Development Secretary has taken to the streets, holding talks with members of the public and putting videos of it online.
His longshot campaign is based on winning over ordinary voters – and asking them to push Tory MPs to back him too.
Mr Stewart told Time magazine: "I’m the sort of Trumpian anti-Trump.
"My little thing on No Deal Brexit got 2million views, which is more than he was getting on some of his tweets."
The candidate admitted he is highly unlikely to win the leadership campaign – but insisted he has huge support from the public.
He said: "If you factor for awareness, I’m now leading the rest. I’m ahead of Boris Johnson.
"A poll that came out on Sunday showed I’m leading on 22 out of the 24 characteristics people want in a leader. So in terms of the public, I’m winning this race.
"In terms of my colleagues, I’m losing it. I’m going to be lucky to even make it through to the second round and get enough MPs supporting me."
Mr Stewart claimed many Tory colleagues secretly back him but don't think he can win over party activists.
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