Cumbrian MP and Conservative leadership hopeful Rory Stewart has revealed his team are in talks with Michael Gove's about joining forces.

He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire that discussions were under way about combining to take on Boris Johnson.

To do so, either Mr Gove or Mr Stewart would have to drop out of the race.

It comes ahead of the next round of voting this afternoon - which will see another of the five remaining candidates eliminated.

Mr Stewart said: "We’re talking about combining forces, because it’s clear that Boris is going into the last round. The question is, who is best placed to sit on the stage with Boris Johnson and who is best placed to ask the testing questions that need to be asked and who has the vision of Britain that is going to excite people, get young people involved again in politics, and show us that we can build a much better country."

But when pressed about how they could unite, given their differing views on Brexit, Mr Stewart admitted that reaching a compromise could be a problem.

He added: "We would have to sit down and come to a common position. I would have to say to him, ‘How is it that you think you are going to get a different deal through Brussels?’ How would you get a no-deal through Parliament?’

"We would have to agree to compromise. And if neither of us were prepared to budge on our analysis of the situation, then of course we couldn’t combine as a team."

However, Mr Gove's camp have reportedly dismissed the notion that he might stand aside.



Mr Stewart also revealed that, following last night's live TV debate, he was up until 3am texting MPs - and claims to have secured two more pledges of support.

There is speculation about who will survive this afternoon's vote - with many doubtful that Stewart will pick up many of the votes previously given to Dominic Raab, who was eliminated yesterday.

Of a total of 313 MPs, the last round saw 126 back Mr Johnson, 46 back Jeremy Hunt, 41 support Mr Gove, 37 vote for Mr Stewart and 33 for Sajid Javid.

Mr Raab received 30 votes so the remaining candidates are now trying to win over these MPs.