'Theresa May has privately vowed to thwart any attempt by Boris Johnson to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, her allies have told The Mail on Sunday.
The disclosure comes as senior party figures told The Mail on Sunday that Mrs May had voted for ultra-Remainer Rory Stewart in Thursday's ballot of MPs, which led to a landslide victory for Mr Johnson.
Mrs May, who has vowed to stay on as an MP after she leaves Downing Street next month, has suggested she would join forces with pro-Remain Ministers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to try to stop Mr Johnson from leaving after the October 31 deadline 'Deal or No Deal'.
The scale of Mr Johnson's victory means that, barring a major Boris blow-up, the race has effectively turned into a battle for second place, with his vanquished opponents deciding whether to fight on or clamber aboard his bandwagon.
It is predicted that the Commons contest to whittle down the field of six to a final two will conclude as soon as Wednesday, after two more rounds of votes.
The last two will then face an electorate of more than 160,000 Tory members, after a surge of new members who signed up ahead of the contest were deemed eligible to vote by party chiefs.
Last night Mr Johnson moved to scotch suggestions he wished to avoid a run-off, saying it was 'full steam ahead to a contest'.
Esther McVey, who came last with nine votes on Thursday, was the first former candidate to declare her intentions, saying that she would swing behind Mr Johnson and urging her eight supporters to do the same.
A source said: 'Boris has told Esther that he will give his backing to blue-collar Conservative policies, such as the need to invest in the Midlands and North'.'
Read more: Theresa May threatens to block No Deal Brexit 'by joining forces with Rudd and Hammond' as friends say she voted for Remainer Rory Stewart to succeed her
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