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Tory leadership race: Members begin voting for next British PM

By PTI Updated: Jul 05, 2019 10:51 pm

London, July 5 (PTI): Britain’s Conservative Party members started to vote on Friday to elect a new leader as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt continue to make their pitches for the top job after Theresa May resigned last month.

The party’s 160,000 or so members have started receiving their ballot papers to choose the next prime minister, the BBC reported.

At a hustings in County Durham, Johnson announced that as prime minister he would launch a review into setting up free ports across the UK.

The winner of the contest is to be announced on July 23 and will take over from May a day later.

May resigned on May 24 after her Brexit plans failed again and again to impress squabbling MPs in Parliament. She formally exited as the leader of the Conservatives on June 7.

May – who became the UK’s second female prime minister in July 2016 – had been under sustained pressure from lawmakers opposed to her Brexit plans.

The UK and the European Union initially agreed to split on March 29. But they agreed a second delay to Brexit and it is now due to happen on October 31. Cross-party talks between the government of May and Labour Party to try to find a compromise ended without an agreement.

The two candidates — Johnson and Hunt — have been facing questions from members in Darlington before travelling to an evening event in Perth, Scotland.

As they did so, Conservative members – including many MPs – posted messages on social media of their ballot papers.

Supporters of Johnson, the former Mayor of London and foreign secretary, urged people to return their papers as soon as possible.

The first, and as yet, only confirmed head-to-head TV debate between the two men, will take place on June 9.

Johnson dismissed claims that Downing Street sought to withhold sensitive information from him. He told activists he was “extremely dubious about the provenance of the story”, claiming it was “not true”.

When asked to give a time in his political life when he had set aside self-interest for the benefit of the country, he replied it was “obviously possible to make more money by not being a full-time politician”.

He also said becoming prime minister would mean he might be unable to complete a book he has been writing.

“I will be depriving myself of the joy of completing that work on Shakespeare as fast as I would like,” he said.

Hunt, who also promised to undertake a review of spirits duty to help the “Scotch whisky boom”, has won the endorsement of one of the Conservatives’ two living ex-prime ministers.

Sir John Major told the BBC that “we need a serious leader for serious times”.

“I cannot vote for someone who is part of the Brexit campaign that misled the country so I will offer my vote for Jeremy Hunt,” he said.

Asked if he trusted Johnson he said, “I don’t know him very well but I do find that many of the things that have been said by Boris Johnson and by many others to be in conflict with reality as I understand it.”


By PTI Updated: Jul 05, 2019 10:51:36 pm