A woman will not replace Theresa May as Prime Minister after MPs refused to back Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey in their droves.
Ms Leadsom, who pulled out of the battle with Theresa May in 2016, failed to get the backing of her party who flocked to Brexiteer Boris Johnson instead.
She only received 11 votes in today’s secret ballot – six short of the 17 the former Leader of the House of Commons needed to get through round one.
Esther McVey stood as a hardline Brexiteer, taking Britain out of the EU with No Deal in October and sacking all remainers from the cabinet.
The former TV journalist has this week been dogged by a row with former colleague Lorraine Kelly, who snubbed her on Good Morning Britain this week, and came last in round one on nine votes.
Former whip Mark Harper, who admitted he would delay Brexit, also crashed out today, receiving ten votes.
Andrea Leadsom – 11 votes
Andrea Leadom crashed out of today’s contest – receiving just 11 votes from MPs today
Former Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom posted a selfie with fellow contenders Rory Stewart and Esther McVey looking in good spirits – but she was knocked out today
The former leader of the House set out plans for a ‘managed exit’ from the EU, saying leaving by the October 31 deadline is a ‘hard red line’.
Today said she was feeling ‘very positive and optimistic and hopeful that I will be getting enough support from colleagues to go through to the next round’ – but it wasn’t the case.
She dismissed claims Parliament would be able to block no deal, saying it was the ‘legal default position’.
On domestic policy, she said her priorities were building new homes, cutting crime, promoting business and delivering a carbon neutral economy.
Mrs Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, resigned in protest after the Prime Minister committed to giving MPs a vote on whether there should be a second Brexit referendum.
In her resignation letter, Mrs Leadsom wrote: ‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result.’
Allies of Mrs Leadsom said that she had warned the Prime Minister at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that she could not accept her new Brexit plan.
Mark Harper – 10 votes
Mark Harper came out of the gate to blast his colleagues for promising No Deal but crashed out of the contest today.
The outsider had challenged voters to ‘ask me anything’ – but got the most coverage when he was grilled over whether a lion would beat a bear in a fight.
Former chief whip Mark Harper opened the floor to questions at the formal launch of his bid to take over from Theresa May
At the formal launch of his bid to take over from Theresa May this week he was first interrogated on his Brexit plan.
But the would-be PM was hit with a more left-field inquiry about a showdown in the animal kingdom.
He was asked at the event in Westminster: ‘Who would win in a fight, a lion or a bear?’
Thinking on his feet, Mr Harper replied: ‘On the basis that the lion is the symbol of Britain, I’m going to say the lion.’
During his press conference, Mr Harper risked the wrath of hard Brexiteers by warning it is ‘not going to be possible’ to leave the EU on October 31.
The former immigration minister admitted he might upset some in his party by not promising to deliver Brexit by the current Article 50 deadline.
But he said: ‘It is not credible to say you can renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement and get it through both Houses of Parliament by October 31.’
Mr Harper sought to play up his working class credentials in a session where he invited the audience to ‘ask him anything’.
He admitted he was the outsider in the race to replace Mrs May, branding himself a ‘serious underdog’.
On Brexit he said he was the only candidate with a ‘realistic and credible’ plan, adding he was ‘comfortable leaving without a deal’, but said it is ‘better to have a deal’.
He added that he didn’t ‘think you can credibly say you’ve done everything humanly possible to get a deal’ by the end of October, saying at that point there would not be a majority in Parliament to allow a no-deal.
And he dismissed the idea of proroguing Parliament, saying it would ‘test our constitution to destruction’, adding he did not want to ‘drag the monarch into the issue’ and endanger the union.
But he did say the UK would have to be out of the EU by May 2020’s local elections, because: ‘We’re not going back to the country in any set of elections before we’ve left.’
And he suggested he would consider a no-deal Brexit at that point if no changes to the Withdrawal Agreement were forthcoming from Brussels
Esther McVey – Nine votes
Esther McVey, pictured on LBC yesterday, blames a ‘cabal of lefties’ at GMTV for her feud with Lorraine Kelly, a friend claimed
Esther McVey struggled to get the support of enough MPs and was dogged by a number of major rows, including a tit-for-tat battle with her former ITV colleagues.
Lorraine Kelly accused the ‘blue collar’ Tory leadership contender Esther McVey of being part of a ‘toxic political atmosphere’ yesterday.
The daytime television presenter spoke out after she exchanged icy comments about her former colleague on Monday.
Some viewers said she may be bitter after the politician was promoted above her during their time working together on GMTV.
But Kelly said she is ‘baffled’ by any suggestion Miss McVey was chosen to host alongside Eamonn Holmes above her as she had her own show.
The 59-year-old, who presents her own show every weekday, attacked Miss McVey’s stance on LGBT rights and said she was sick ‘of the whole toxic political atmosphere’.
The MP for Tatton in Cheshire was questioned about her relationship with Miss Kelly at a press conference where she told the audience that the pair shared a dressing room, before suggesting that she was promoted ahead of her to partner Eamonn Holmes.
Rumours of a fractured relationship spread after Miss Kelly appeared to snub the politician live on air during her appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday.
Days earlier she was savaged by fellow senior Tories after backing the right of Muslim parents to take their children out of anti-homophobia lessons.
After Esther McVey’s interview, GMB cut live to the Lorraine studio where Piers asked host Lorraine Kelly (right) on whether she remembered McVey from the days they both worked at ITV – she said simply ‘yeah’ and nothing else
Former GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips (left) and the show’s former political correspondent Gloria Del Piero (right) were named by the friend as members of a supposed ‘cabal of Lefties’
The Conservative leadership candidate said the decision on what pupils learn should be ‘down to parents’ as they ‘know best for their child’.
Her comments prompted condemnation from Justine Greening, who was also the first openly gay woman in the Conservative cabinet, and Amber Rudd.
Under new legislation, all primary schools must have such lessons from 2020 as part of a compulsory relationships education.
Crucially, parents will not have the right to withdraw their children from the lessons.
Meanwhile, in secondary schools, children will have a new sex education curriculum, with parents retaining the right of withdrawal.
Speaking to Sky News, Miss McVey said: ‘I believe parents know best for their children. While they’re still children-and we’re talking primary school [age]-then really the parents need to have the final say on what they want their children to know.’