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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
And then there were three
Would-be Tory leader Michael Portillo
Has the Portillo bandwagon stalled?
Nick Assinder

It took them two attempts, but the Tories have finally decided who they definitely do NOT want as their leader.

But they still seemed unclear about who they do want.

The result of the re-run leadership ballot was bad news for Michael Ancram, who was kicked out.

But it also brought little cheer to front-runner Michael Portillo, whose campaign appeared to have stalled.

Tory contender Iain Duncan Smith
All eyes are now on Smith
He picked up only a single vote while Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke both picked up three votes each - leaving them battling for second place.

Fourth man David Davis, who lost three supporters, initially refused to stand down, although on Friday he conceded that he could not garner enough support to see him through the next round.

He said he would be supporting Mr Duncan Smith and urged his supporters to do the same - although some of them are likely to switch to Mr Clarke.

Bandwagon stopped

So all attention is now focused on whether the unthinkable can happen, and that the Portillo bandwagon can be stopped in its tracks.

And, for the first time, he looks seriously vulnerable - particularly to Mr Duncan Smith.

The Thatcherite right-winger has emerged as the real dark horse and is clearly a serious contender for the leadership.

Ken Clarke, who thinks he should be the natural contender against Mr Portillo, was left claiming he could now win over enough of the Ancram and Davis votes to put him in the final two.

Tory leadership contender Kenneth Clarke
Clarke is still sweating it out
The contest is certainly still wide open and few in Westminster would be foolhardy enough to bet on the final outcome.

Meanwhile, the arm twisting will now move into top gear as each of the candidates' camps bid to win over those 17 MPs who backed Mr Ancram, and try to peel off the 18 who supported Mr Davis.

They know they will be lied to and that there will be huge element of tactical voting.

That has already been a feature of this campaign, with many MPs voting not for the candidate they want to win, but for the candidate they believe can stop the person they are desperate to stop.

But things now get real. And the battle for the future of the Conservative Party is now "game on".


In DepthIN DEPTH
BBC News Online's in-depth coverage of the Tory leadership contestTory leadership
In-depth report on the race to succeed Hague
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