Davis drops out of Tory leadership contest

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Indy Politics

The pool of candidates battling to lead Britain's Conservative Party shrunk to three on Friday when David Davis dropped out of the race, saying that he would support Iain Duncan Smith.

The next vote on Tuesday will reduce the field to two semi­finalists, who will then face a vote by the party's 300,000 members.

Davis withdrew after he was placed fourth in a vote by Tory legislators. The fifth­place candidate, former party chairman Michael Ancram, was eliminated.

Michael Portillo has led the two rounds of voting held so far. Although he is generally considered the favourite to succeed William Hague, he is more popular among MPs than party members in general, and so would find the final vote a tougher test than the previous, Westminster-only ones.

Duncan Smith has placed second in both votes. Former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, whose advocacy of closer ties with the European Union rankles many Conservatives, came in third.

Once the 166 Conservative legislators narrow the field down to two candidates, party members will choose the winner, whose name is to be announced Sept. 12.