BORIS Johnson last night edged one step closer to Downing Street, claiming victory in the penultimate Conservative Party leadership ballot.

The former mayor of London, whose claim to the Tory top job is backed by both of Swindon’s MPs, won the final ballot of Conservative members of parliament with 160 votes.

He and Jeremy Hunt, who took over from Mr Johnson as foreign secretary, passed the penultimate hurdle in the leadership race - with Michael Gove eliminated from the fight. Party members will now vote on the winner.

Mr Johnson said: “I look forward to getting out across the UK and to set out my plan to deliver Brexit, unite our country, and create a brighter future for all of us.”

Robert Buckland, South Swindon MP and one of Mr Johnson’s backers, said: “He won a clear majority of MPs and now we will be able to take his case to members. I think it will be a civilised and grown-up debate. Which is what we need and people will have the time to scrutinise and question him.”

A series of hustings events will be held around the country over the coming month. The winner of the leadership election will be announced on July 22.