Clarke eliminated in Tory leadership race

Davis, Cameron and Fox win through to the next round as the Europhile former Chancellor falls at the first hurdle

The votes cast in the first ballot of MPs were:
David Davis 62
David Cameron 56
Liam Fox 42
Kenneth Clarke 38

The remaining three contenders are due now to go into a second ballot of MPs - to be held on Thursday - to decide which two will go forward to the final ballot of the entire party membership.

David Davis, who had been hoping for 66 or 67 votes, said that there had obviously been some tactical voting but "the highest number of Conservative MPs have selected me as their first choice".

He called on Conservative MPs to give a "clear steer" in the second ballot about the man they wanted to lead the party.

David Cameron said that it was a better result than he had expected and described it as "very pleasing". He would be calling on Mr Clarke and his supporters to support him in the next round.

Mr Davis's loss of support will encourage hopes among the campaign team of fellow right-winger Dr Fox, who said that a lot of votes would be moving around over the next few days. He added: "I am delighted to have polled well above predictions."

For Ken Clarke, it was a humiliating end to his long-standing dream of leading the Conservative Party. It was supposed to be third time lucky for the self-styled "Big Beast" of the contest.

He gave no immediate message of which of the remaining three he would now support, but did say of the defeat at the hands of his fellow MPs: "It sends the message that they are looking for a younger leader."

For much of the summer it looked like Mr Clarke could finally achieve his ambition at the age of 65.

After announcing he would definitely run, the former Chancellor quickly established himself as the key challenger to David Davis.

At the annual party conference he joked: "We search for leaders who will be seen by the public as prime ministers in waiting. Oh boy, have you kept me waiting."

But by then he was already being eclipsed by moderniser David Cameron, who was picking up support from centre-left MPs who would once have automatically fallen in behind Mr Clarke.

The shadow education secretary's tender years only served to highlight the sense that Mr Clarke, the oldest contender, had had his day.

A veteran of the Thatcher and Major governments, he served as health secretary, education secretary and home secretary as well as commanding the Treasury.

Mr Clarke is widely credited with leaving Chancellor Gordon Brown a " golden legacy" when Labour's victory turfed him out of 11 Downing Street in 1997.

However, he was criticised for returning to the backbenches in Opposition after failing to become leader instead of joining the Tory frontbench.

His famously laid-back style coupled with a love of beer, cigars and jazz set him apart from other senior politicians.

But it was his pro-European views that created a gulf with his party and did for previous leadership bids.

In 1997, MPs rejected him in favour of the youthful William Hague even though Mr Clarke led in the early rounds.

In 2001, he lost out to Iain Duncan Smith in a ballot of party activists after topping the Parliamentary poll.

With euro membership off the agenda and the Europe Union's constitution in ruins, polls suggested activists hungry for electoral success were prepared to back him this time.

Mr Clarke capitalised on this, stressing his broad appeal to voters while talking down his pro-Europe views.

MPs initially looked set to give him the chance and put him in the final two against Davis.

That, though, was before Cameron catapulted himself into pole position with the bookies with his dazzling conference performance and sucked up centre-left support in his wake.

Mr Clarke warned there would be "a good deal of ill feeling" among activists if he did not make the final ballot.

With colleagues on the green benches happy to take that risk there seems little prospect of a shadow cabinet return, leaving Mr Clarke more time to devote to his controversial tobacco industry interests.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory