Rivals to replace May say Boris Johnson needs scrutiny

Cheryl Sanders
June 15, 2019

Johnson collected more votes than his three nearest rivals in the first ballot held by the 313 Conservative lawmakers in the lower House of Commons on Thursday.

However, EU officials are working on the assumption that Mr Johnson will not insist on forcing through No Deal because this would trigger a no confidence vote by MPs and end his premiership.

In addition to Johnson and Hunt, those still in the race are Environment Secretary Michael Gove, ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart. But some of those running to lead the Conservatives, including Mr Johnson, say it may be the only way for Britain to leave the bloc without further delay.

The former Conservative leadership contender has for years been against Mr Johnson leading the party, but said he now feels a "sort of enthusiasm that he is going to win by a landslide".

Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said earlier on Friday that Johnson's Brexit proposals had to be scrutinized.

Meanwhile, frontrunner Boris Johnson says he will appear in a BBC TV debate next Tuesday.

Johnson has not confirmed he will take part, leading to accusations the flamboyant former foreign secretary is avoiding hard questions.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World At One programme, Mr Johnson said the "fundamental flaw" in the current Withdrawal Agreement is the Irish backstop, and claimed that a solution could be found.

Speaking to The Sun, the unnamed Boris-backer said that Mr Johnson may "have to" delay Brexit by a few weeks, after the leading candidate had said that the United Kingdom must leave the European Union by the October 31st deadline.

He told the BBC: "We can only have that debate if our front-runner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media and actually engaging in debates".

Britain's businesses are being advised to prepare for no-deal Brexit after hard-line Brexiteers took the lead in the latest Conservative leadership vote.

The Conservative Party is holding a contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who quit as party leader last week after failing to secure Parliament's backing for her divorce deal with the EU. He's got 43 votes.

Given the inevitable bandwagon effect among MPs eager to back the eventual victor, his support can only rise over the next week as further rounds of voting take place.

"I think at this point some MPs would prefer to throw the dice of a general election than to go for no deal".

Hancock said he had run as the "candidate of the future" but found that "the party, understandably, is focused very much on the here and now and how we get through Brexit".

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