BRITS TOP JOB
A host of candidates to replace Theresa May as British prime minister have launched their campaigns, promising to solve the turmoil of Brexit while taking shots at frontrunner Boris Johnson.
Mrs May stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party on Friday, having failed three times to win Parliament’s support for an EU divorce deal that was supposed to steer the country smoothly out of the bloc.
Nominations to replace her had to be submitted on Monday, and the party’s 1922 Committee, which is running the contest, said 10 candidates had achieved the required support of at least eight of the Conservatives’ 300-plus elected MPs.
Another, Sam Gyimah, withdrew just before the announcement, saying he had not been able to build sufficient support. He was the only one to support a second Brexit referendum.
Conservative MPs will hold a first round of voting tomorrow to begin narrowing the field.
The candidates’ campaign launches on Monday all set out domestic agendas, but it was Brexit that dominated, with overt and thinly veiled digs at former foreign minister Mr Johnson.
“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 Mr Johnson’s 2016 leadership bid by pulling his support at the last moment to run himself.
“The Conservative Party membership deserve a choice.”
Nearly all the hopefuls promised they could solve the Brexit conundrum — which eluded Mrs May in three years of EU talks — in just three months, between the leader being chosen at the end of next month and the current exit date of October 31.
“From my conversations with European leaders, it is clear to me there is a deal to be done; they want us to come up with proposals,” Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said.
If the issue was not sorted out, he said, the party would be annihilated in an election and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would take power.
Dominic Raab, who quit as Brexit minister over Mrs May’s divorce deal, said he too could secure a new agreement.
However, he promised Britain would leave the EU on October 31, even if that meant reverting to basic World Trade Organisation trade terms.