Tory leadership race: As Sam Gyimah leaves the race, who will be next to fall?

Sam Gyimah’s candidacy to succeed Theresa May lasted just nine days.

It was launched to broaden the Conservative leadership campaign to include one of the handful of Tory supporters of a second referendum.

His supporters whispered that he had sympathy right up to and including members of the cabinet. It didn’t work.

Given that more than eight out of 10 Tory members oppose such a referendum (according to last month’s YouGov poll of paid up party supporters) today was simply a concession to the inevitable.

Asked what the naughtiest thing he had ever done was by the Conservative Home website, Mr Gyimah replied: “I’d candidly suggest that standing for the Tory leadership on a second referendum platform must rank quite high.”

Mr Gyimah’s candidacy may have disappeared, but his frustration with the way the Brexit debate is unfolding in this contest will not. He declared whoever wins will become a “do nothing” prime minister because they are promising the impossible.

Most of the 10 remaining candidates still look to be promising a renegotiation with the EU before 31 October, with little clarity over what happens when this fails – given parliament will attempt to block a no-deal Brexit.

Get ready for more to crash out before the end of the week, with four of the other ten on the precipice.

By Thursday, when the first round of voting takes place, all candidates must have a minimum of 16 MPs supporting them.

According to the Sky News tally of support, Mark Harper has eight publicly declared supporters, Rory Stewart and Esther McVey have six and Andrea Leadsom has five.

They potentially only survived the Monday 5pm deadline, which required them to have eight supporters, by “borrowing” votes from other contenders. Their prospects as it stands do not look good.

The big question is what happens when the big beasts crash out, a process which will start by next Tuesday at the latest.

After Michael Gove’s dismal weekend – starting with a cocaine confession and ending with a key potential backer, Amber Rudd, endorsing a rival – the environment secretary’s candidacy – with 29 publicly declared supporters – is on the brink.

A bombastic and high-octane campaign launch on Monday, throwing out multiple challenges to Boris Johnson, may not be enough to claw back lost momentum.

After a rocky start to his campaign amid allegations of flip-flopping, Jeremy Hunt has resurfaced as a leading contender to reach the last two.

Although sympathetic MPs concede that Mr Hunt’s candidacy doesn’t raise the pulse, they hope he might find a new gear if he enters the final two against Boris Johnson. Sajid Javid’s endorsement by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, was an unexpected boost, while Dominic Raab has consolidated his pitch to the right of the party.

However, Tory MPs now believe the race is Mr Johnson’s to lose.

His approach to date has been to avoid the kind of blanket coverage he basked in during the EU referendum campaign.

There is a determined minority of MPs hoping to derail him, so many dangers are still abound.

Equally, there are dangers in being seen to hide from scrutiny.

However, if staying out of the limelight is what it takes, then Mr Johnson is on course to win.

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