Kemi Badenoch has been eliminated from the race to replace Boris Johnson, leaving Liz Truss as the only candidate of the party’s right to qualify for tomorrow’s final knock-out round.

The Tory leadership contest is now down to a final three: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Truss. 

MPs staggered into the Commons in the sweltering heat this afternoon to cast their vote for the fourth time, with several male MPs, including Neil O’Brien, daring to break convention and don a pair of shorts. 

Here are the results:

Rishi Sunak – 118 (+3)
Penny Mordaunt – 92 (+10)
Liz Truss – 86 (+15)
Kemi Badenoch – 59 (+1)
Truss made the biggest gains in this latest round, picking up 15 of the 31 votes up for grabs from Tom Tugendghat’s supporters. In some respects, a surprising result given that centrist Tugendhat’s platform is generally seen as closest to that of Penny Mordaunt’s. 

Mordaunt’s performance today was much stronger than yesterday’s – gaining 10 votes compared to Monday’s abysmal -1. Yet the buoyed-up Truss camp will now be hoping to overtake Mordaunt in tomorrow’s vote. 

Truss is likely to hoover up most of Badenoch’s eurosceptic backers. Some bookmakers now have Truss as the odds-on favourite to be the next PM because of her polling lead over Sunak if she makes the final two. In the next 24 hours, there will be a frenzied tussle between Mordaunt and Truss for Badenoch’s votes.

It was Rishi Sunak who performed rather poorly in this round, adding just three votes to his tally. Though still firmly in first place, the ex-Chancellor failed to pass the anticipated magic 120 threshold – the number of votes he needs to guarantee him a place among the final two. However, rumours are flying that Sunak’s camp may have “lent” votes to other candidates to ensure Badenoch didn’t make the next round. 

It’s a disappointing day for Badenoch, who, after her strong performance yesterday, had hoped to gain enough momentum to surpass her rival Truss. Indeed, just this morning her high-profile backer Michael Gove, was still insisting the former equalities minister “is going to make it to the final two!” 

Still, the contest has been quite the breakthrough for 42-year-old Badenoch, who only became an MP in 2017, and had rarely been mentioned as a serious contender to succeed Johnson prior to the race. 

What’s more, new polling conducted after Sunday’s leadership debate found Badenoch to be the favourite of Conservative party members out of all the Tory hopefuls. In head-to-heads, she beat Sunak by 56 per cent to 34 per cent.

While Badenoch has missed out on the big prize this time, strong grassroots popularity is a valuable asset for her political future. 

The same polling suggests Sunak would lose to both his rivals in a leadership election decided by Tory party members: losing by 35 per cent to 54 against Truss and 27 per cent to 51 against Mordaunt. 

It’s a fitting reminder that although Sunak can feel confident about making it through the final round of MP ballots tomorrow, once voting is thrown open to party members, securing the premiership is far from guaranteed.