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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Tory leadership voting ends
Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke
Voting in the three-month battle for the leadership of the Conservative Party has ended.

Noon on Tuesday was the deadline set for ballot papers to be received and turnout is expected to be high.

The company running the contest for the Tories, Electoral Reform Ballot Services, is checking and sorting the votes before storing them securely overnight.

Contenders Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith will face an anxious wait when counting begins at 0800 BST on Wednesday, but should know their fates by about 1715 BST.

Both camps say they are quietly confident of victory when the result is announced at London's Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

Final odds

Bookmaker William Hill has closed its book on the leadership race with Mr Duncan Smith the 2/7 favourite ahead of Mr Clarke, whose odds finished at 5/2.

Mr Clarke's team insisted the result would upset those odds and they are expected to take comfort from a high turnout.

But a spokesman for Mr Duncan Smith said his supporters were "quietly confident but not complacent".

Whoever wins will face an immediately daunting task to lead a party left effectively rudderless since its crushing general election defeat in June.

Bitter battle

William Hague's successor has just a month to settle in before having to rally the troops at the Tories' annual conference, being held in Blackpool.

The new leader will already have a clear idea of the challenge ahead following the bitter nature of much of the leadership contest.

Party elders have embarked in a vicious round of bloodletting, led by former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major who backed different candidates.

With Europe dominating much of the debate, appeals by both candidates for the party to move on to other issues could prove to be in vain which ever of them wins.


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See also:

08 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Tory rivals coy on vote outcome
07 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Tory hopefuls make final pitch
09 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Top Tories warns of European divisions
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