Published: Mon, June 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Beating Boris Johnson: Race to replace Theresa May kicks off

Beating Boris Johnson: Race to replace Theresa May kicks off

The contest to replace Theresa May as Britain's next leader formally got under way on Monday, with frontrunner Boris Johnson facing criticism from Paris over his Brexit plan and a key rival struggling to throw off a drugs scandal.

Mr Hunt has held a variety of government posts and has been foreign secretary since Mr Johnson resigned in July over Brexit.

Conservative lawmakers will hold their first round of voting on Thursday to begin narrowing the field.

The pair have history - Gove dramatically withdrew his backing for Johnson during the 2016 leadership campaign, only to falter himself, clearing the way for May.

"If I get through, which I am sure I will actually, to the final two against Mr Johnson, this is what I will say to him: "Mr Johnson, whatever you do, don't pull out", said environment minister Michael Gove, who scuppered Johnson's 2016 leadership bid by pulling his support at the last moment to run himself.

Unlike the other candidates, Mr Johnson hasn't given television interviews or held any public events, as his campaign team tries to avoid gaffes that could spoil his front-runner status.

The Tories are under pressure from both leftist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and populist Nigel Farage, whose new Brexit Party has been poaching disgruntled Tory voters.

The race has been dominated by Britain's looming European Union exit on October 31, with Johnson among those talking tough on the need to renegotiate the terms May struck or leave with no deal.

"I'm the Brexiteer that you can rely on", he said. So, if you see value in the work we do, please consider subscribing or donating any small amount you can afford without encountering hardship.

The Brexit years have not been kind to the Conservative Party - first losing the Brexit referendum against the British people that was meant to be a certain victory and which forced Cameron's resignation, and then almost three years of self-inflicted Brexit defeats at the hands of Theresa May.

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The differences between the candidates reflect Conservative disunity on the issue, which has meant that, three years after the United Kingdom voted by 52% to 48% to quit the European Union, it remains unclear how, when or even whether it will indeed leave.

Johnson is not only the bookmakers' clear favorite but, according to polls, the most popular with the 160,000 party members who will ultimately make the choice.

Confronted with the question of whether he had been hypocritical in taking cocaine and overseeing as education secretary a system in which teachers would be sacked for doing so, he said he had learned from his mistakes.

Several candidates appeared to take aim at Johnson in comments Monday.

Promising to deliver an energising blend of social liberalism and economic dynamism, he said on Monday that the Conservatives had to look beyond Brexit - a message that may be coming too soon for many in the party.

FILE PHOTO: The door of 10 Downing Street is seen as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain, May 24, 2019.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told his launch "we need a fresh start" and ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled plans to redirect £500m a year from the aid budget to create an worldwide wildlife fund.

Media captionLeadership candidate Jeremy Hunt: "We need tough negotiation, not empty rhetoric".

"The problem is there and the new prime minister will have the responsibility with us to solve this problem".

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