UK: Conservative Party announces 10 leadership hopefuls

UK: Conservative Party announces 10 leadership hopefuls”

Boris Johnson has solidified his front-runner status in the race to become Britain's next prime minister by gaining backing from leading pro-Brexit lawmakers.

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

May officially began on Monday - when candidates were required to submit their papers - and the campaign is off to a rambunctious start with candidates attacking each other over past drug use and who is best able to deliver Brexit and save the Conservatives from sagging popularity.

He made a series of digs at the frontrunner Boris Johnson, including criticising his rival's flagship tax policy to increase the higher-rate tax threshold, which would benefit only those at the upper end of the income scale.

The former London mayor and foreign secretary adores the limelight and courts the media, tousling his blond hair to make it even more unruly and peppering his speeches with jokes, quips and Latin phrases.

The race has been dominated by Britain's looming European Union exit on October 31, with Johnson among those talking tough on the need to renegotiate the terms May struck or leave with no deal. He has threatened to withhold an agreed $50 billion "divorce" payment if the bloc plays hardball. "Without Brexit there will be no Conservative government and maybe no Conservative Party". Regarded as even-tempered and competent, he managed to navigate a heated contract dispute with doctors in the National Health Service when he was health secretary, securing a deal after a long-standing argument.

Hunt was against the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum, consistently supported Theresa May's "betrayal" treaty with the European Union, and remains against the UK leaving the European Union fully, in what the British political establishment calls a "hard", or clean Brexit.

Ten candidates were nominated in the contest to succeed Theresa May as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, the party's 1922 Committee said on Monday.

Gove is also facing pressure after acknowledging that he took cocaine a few times before entering politics.

"I'm the Brexiteer that you can rely on", he said.

Mr Javid's background as the son of Pakistani immigrants sets him apart from numerous other Conservative contenders.

During the Brexit referendum of 2016, Javid was on the "remain" side but has since embraced Brexit, though some Brexiteers remain suspicious of his allegiances.

However, he looks determined to carry on with his bid saying he is "undaunted" by criticism because he believes he can deliver Brexit.

Having been a loyal lieutenant to the disastrous leadership of Britain's present Prime Minister, Hunt is seen as a contingency-May candidate, who herself was thought of at the time of her selection as a continuation of the legacy of David Cameron.

But "whether he can actually achieve that is another matter", the expert said.

These included global development minister Rory Stewart, home affairs minister Sajid Javid, former work and pensions minister and ex-TV presenter Esther McVey, health minister Matthew Hancock, and former immigration minister Mark Harper.

What is on the table has been approved by all member states and the election of a new prime minister will of course not change the parameters.

A rare pro-EU voice in the contest, MrGyimah quit as a junior minister a year ago so he could campaign for a new public referendum on Britain's membership in the bloc.

Johnson is not only the bookmakers' clear favorite but, according to polls, the most popular with the 160,000 party members who will ultimately make the choice.

A former Conservative whip in Parliament, Harper is one of the lesser-known contenders.

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