By James Tapsfield, Political Editor, For Mailonline
Published: 08:27 BST, 20 June 2019 | Updated: 08:59 BST, 20 June 2019
Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are scrambling to woo failed Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart today as they vie to face Boris Johnson in the run-off.
The pair are desperately competing for votes as MPs whittle the field down to the final two - with the party membership then getting to decide the winner.
Mr Stewart was the latest candidate brutally ejected from the contest last night, after his support dropped dramatically to 27 in the wake of a bizarre performance in the five-way TV debate.
However, he has blamed 'dark arts' for his demise - with claims Johnson's allies propped him up to ensure rival Dominic Raab was evicted, and are now determined to prevent Mr Gove to getting through.
Mr Gove has never been forgiven for betraying Mr Johnson in the 2016 leadership contest.
Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, who is campaigning for Mr Hunt, this morning urged Mr Johnson to condemn the 'game playing' by his fans.
The Foreign Secretary also ramped up his rhetoric against the front runner, urging his colleagues to recognise the party 'can do better than Boris'.
Meanwhile, Mr Stewart said former competitors have been in touch trying to win him over - but insisted he would not be backing anyone publicly.
'I’ve been getting texts like you wouldn’t believe,' he joked.
Boris Johnson (pictured at his London home today) is guaranteed to make the final two in the Tory leader contest - with Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove fighting over who will take him on
There are claims Mr Johnson's allies are determined to evict Mr Gove (pictured at his London home today) from the contest
Mr Hunt (pictured out running today) has been in second place in the first three Tory ballots - but is only narrowly ahead of Mr Gove with all to play for
MPs loyal to Mr Johnson are plotting the environment secretary's downfall, with one Johnson supporter saying they want him 'humiliated', according to The Telegraph.
It comes as Mr Johnson's team have also approached Sajid Javid - who came fourth in the ballot