Boris Johnson tops first vote in UK Conservative Party election; winner will be prime minister too

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, delivering his speech in London, Britain June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

With Theresa May stepping down as Conservative Party leader, her position—and with it the job of Prime Minister—will go to one of many candidates standing to replace her. In the first round of voting today, presumptive favorite Boris Johnson won the most votes and three others were knocked out. Seven proceed to the second vote next week.

Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey - have been knocked out, in the secret ballot held in the House of Commons. Mr Johnson received 114 votes, Jeremy Hunt was second with 43, and Michael Gove third with 37 votes.

The BBC graphic above shows how things shook out. Gove was badly hurt by last week's media exposé on the candidates' youthful drug habits due to the extent of his hypocrisy: as education secretary, he imposed a lifetime ban for teachers caught using drugs. Leadsom underperformed compared to opinion polling of party rank and file; she may have popularity issues among her peers in Parliament. Boris is not as inevitable as the first round suggests, as he received only 36% of the total, another candidate might surge as others drop out, and his propensity for gaffes and bigoted remarks offers latitude for a "June surprise". But he is surely the runaway favorite to lead his party—and Britain—into Brexit.