Friday, 22 November, 2019

UK PM candidate Boris Johnson far ahead in first round of voting

Jacob Rees-Moog Jacob Rees-Moog. Dan Kitwood Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 14 June, 2019, 09:47

We now know that the next Prime Minister will not be a woman.

Mr Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister, has spent weeks wooing Conservative MPs, staying out of the spotlight with a low-key campaign at odds with his flamboyant publicity stunts of the past.

Also competing against Mr Hancock is Michael Gove, who today won 37 votes, Jeremy Hunt, 43, Sajid Javid, 23, Dominic Raab 27, and Rory Stewart, 19.

Johnson said that if parliament blocks Brexit completely, "we will reap the whirlwind and we will face mortal retribution from the electorate".

May will then step down as prime minister and the new leader of the largest party in parliament will be appointed as PM by Queen Elizabeth II.

Conservative insiders say the race is now his to lose.

Esther McVey, Mark Harper and Andrea Leadsom all failed to get 17 votes - the required number to remain in the contest.

Leadsom - runner-up to May in the 2016 leadership contest following the Brexit referendum - wanted a managed no-deal departure.

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Raab, like Johnson, has warned that he was ready to take Britain out of the European Union without an agreement when the new Brexit deadline arrives in October, if the European Union does not offer better terms.

European Union leaders are adamant that the agreement won't be altered, and economists warn that a no-deal departure would cause economic chaos for the United Kingdom.

Tweeting after his win, Boris said: "Thank you to my friends and colleagues in the Conservative & Unionist Party for your support".

Aside from the dominating issue of Brexit, the contest has been marked by dirty tricks, personal attacks and lurid accusations with much of the media focusing on whether contenders have ever dabbled in drugs - an issue triggered by the forced confession of one of the principal contenders, former Justice Minister Michael Gove, that he'd snorted cocaine as a student and later as a journalist. In 2017, when he was foreign secretary, he said incorrectly that a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran was a journalist, damaging attempts to secure her release.

The victor of the contest to succeed Theresa May is expected to be announced in the week of 22 July.

Conservative legislators will hold further elimination rounds of votes next week until two contenders remain.

At the same time, members of the Conservative Party will receive ballot papers allowing them to choose which of the two names they would prefer as leader.

And International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, the seventh-placed candidate, told the BBC's Politics Live he was "completely over the moon" to have got through the first vote.

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