Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Boris Johnson tops first-round vote for British PM

Boris Johnson tops first-round vote for British PM

His closest rivals in the first round were: Jeremy Hunt, the foreign minister, who garnered 43 votes; Michael Gove, environment minister, 37 votes and Dominic Raab, former Brexit minister, 27 votes.

Two of the candidates who are struggling for support - Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Health Secretary Matt Hancock - met to discuss their options after Johnson took a huge lead in the race for the Conservative Party leadership in the first round of voting on Thursday (Friday NZ time).

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Boris Johnson received 114 votes in the secret ballot in the House of Commons. If they all clear that hurdle, the one with the lowest number of votes is knocked out.

Bookmakers have ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson as their odds-on favourite to win the contest to replace her. Britain's European Union departure was originally due to take place on March 29, but has been delayed to October 31 because of the political deadlock in London.

A cross-party effort to block a chaotic end to the 46-year partnership failed on Wednesday, potentially leaving more room for manoeuvre for a future premier.

"Obviously we're happy with the results but there's still a long way to go to winning the contest", a spokesman for Johnson told reporters.

Lawmakers Esther McVey, Mark Harper and Andrea Leadsom all failed to reach the threshold of 17 votes needed to get to the next round.

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If there were only three candidates left by next Tuesday's vote, one would be eliminated and the contest could proceed to the next stage of voting by the party membership the same day, instead of next Thursday as now scheduled.

The result will be announced in the week beginning July 22.

He argues that if Britain is prepared for a no-deal Brexit, the European Union will bend to his argument to remove the so-called Northern Irish backstop to prevent a return to a hard border with Ireland if there is no agreed future trade deal.

While Parliament has indicated it will try to stop a no-deal Brexit, which experts warn would hurt financial markets and the world economy, some of those running say it may be the only way for Britain to leave the bloc without further delay.

Hunt and Gove are against leaving on no-deal terms in October.

"We can't risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort-zone choice", the interior minister said, recounting his story of growing up in Britain as the son of Pakistani immigrants.

The candidates face their first live television debate on Sunday in a 90-minute programme on Channel 4.

The last pair standing will go up before 160,000 voting Conservative Party members across the country.

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