10 candidates running in Brexit-dominated UK leadership race

International

FILE – In this Tuesday, March 19, 2019 file photo, Boris Johnson, Britain’s former Foreign Secretary and prominent leave the European Union Brexit campaigner walks away after leaving the Cabinet Office in London. Britain’s High Court has quashed a bid to prosecute Conservative lawmaker Boris Johnson for allegedly lying during the country’s 2016 European Union membership referendum. Two judges on Friday, June 7 threw out a lower court’s ruling that Johnson should be summoned to answer questions about Brexit campaigners’ claim that Britain pays 350 million pounds ($446 million) a week to the EU. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON (AP) — Leading lawmakers from Britain’s governing party battled over Brexit as the contest to become the next Conservative prime minister officially kicked off Monday with the declaration of 10 candidates for the top job.

The choice of who will replace Prime Minister Theresa May affects all Britons, but will be made only by members of the right-of-center Conservative Party.

After the 5 p.m. close of nominations, party officials announced the names of the 10 lawmakers who are running, including former Cabinet minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove. An 11th, Sam Gyimah, withdrew because he was unable to secure the support of eight colleagues as required by party rules.

The winner will face the challenge of breaking Britain’s impasse over Brexit, an issue that has bedeviled politicians for three years and ultimately defeated Theresa May.

May stepped down Friday as Conservative leader after failing to secure Parliament’s backing for her EU withdrawal deal. She will remain caretaker prime minister until the party picks its new leader, a process that could run until late July.

Many of the candidates have been campaigning unofficially for weeks, laying out policies on everything from policing to tax, and facing questions about past drug use. But the overriding issue in the contest is Brexit.

The Conservatives have been hammered in recent European and local elections as voters punish the party for failing to leave the 28-nation EU.

“Our failure to deliver Brexit has put our country and party in grave peril,” Hunt said as he officially launched his campaign on Monday. “Without Brexit there will be no Conservative government and maybe no Conservative Party.”

The candidates divide into those, including Hunt and Gove, who say they will prioritize finding a divorce deal that’s acceptable both to the EU and to Parliament, and hard-core Brexit backers such as Johnson who say the U.K. must leave on the scheduled date of Oct. 31. — with or without a deal.

Gove, one of the front-runners, is trying to limit fallout from his admission of long-ago cocaine use, which brought allegations that the former justice secretary — who oversaw a system that sends drug users to prison — is a hypocrite.

“I’ve acknowledged that I made a mistake,” Gove said, adding that as justice secretary he was a reformer who sought to rehabilitate prisoners and “take broken lives and put them back together.”

Most of the other contenders have also confessed to occasional past use of drugs. In most cases it involved marijuana, although International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said he smoked opium at a wedding in Iran 15 years ago.

The contest’s winner will be chosen in a two-stage process. First, the 313 Conservative lawmakers will vote in a series of rounds starting Thursday, with the worst performers dropping out until only two candidates remain. The final two will be put to a postal vote among the 160,000 Conservative Party members in the country.

The favorite on betting markets is Johnson, a former foreign secretary with an instantly recognizable mop of blond hair and a knack for entertaining the public.

He says he will take Britain out of the bloc without a deal if necessary, and on Monday promised a tax cut for millions of middle- and high-income Britons.

Unlike the other candidates, 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.

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

“We won’t deliver Brexit with bluff and bluster,” said former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who is competing with Johnson for the support of hardcore Brexiteers.

Hunt said the party needed a “serious leader.”

“We need tough negotiation, not empty rhetoric,” he said.

Gove took aim at Johnson’s backing for a no-deal Brexit, saying it could spell the end of the Conservative government.

“There would be a vote of confidence in the House of Commons that the government would lose,” Gove said. “We would have (opposition Labour Party leader) Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street by Christmas.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Broken Clouds

Abbeville

67°F Broken Clouds Feels like 67°
Wind
9 mph ESE
Humidity
87%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy early followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
65°F Partly cloudy early followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph SE
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Crescent
Clear

Crowley

67°F Clear Feels like 67°
Wind
8 mph SE
Humidity
89%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
65°F Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph SE
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Crescent
Clear

Opelousas

65°F Clear Feels like 65°
Wind
9 mph SE
Humidity
88%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 63F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph.
65°F Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 63F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph.
Wind
8 mph SE
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Crescent
Few Clouds

Breaux Bridge

67°F Few Clouds Feels like 67°
Wind
5 mph
Humidity
84%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
65°F Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph SE
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Crescent
Few Clouds

New Iberia

66°F Few Clouds Feels like 66°
Wind
8 mph SE
Humidity
96%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy in the evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers after midnight. Low around 45F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.
62°F Partly cloudy in the evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers after midnight. Low around 45F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.
Wind
4 mph WSW
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Crescent

Sidebar

Trending Stories