Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Boris Johnson launches bid to become UK Prime Minister

Boris Johnson launches bid to become UK Prime Minister

Three MPs have been eliminated in the first round of the Conservative leadership race.

Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to take part in the televised Tory leadership debates after rival camps accused the frontrunner of hiding from public scrutiny.

Assuming Johnson does not lose support, his tally is above the 105 votes required to secure a place in the last two.

Cheryl Gillan said there were no spoiled ballots or rejected votes. Then the 160,000 or so party members vote for a victor.

PM hopeful Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, Britain, June 13, 2019.

Johnson vowed Wednesday that as prime minister he would "get Brexit done", either by renegotiating May's rejected Brexit deal or by leaving the European Union on October 31 without an agreement.

The EU departure was originally due to take place on March 29, but has been delayed to October 31 because of the political deadlock in London.

All the Conservative contenders say if they emerge as the victor, they will renegotiate the contentious Brexit withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck with Brussels last November after two years of ill-tempered haggling. They are urging the Conservatives not to try to reopen negotiations.

"It is genuinely shocking that a new prime minister would even consider imposing a destructive Brexit on the people of Britain".

"We can't risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort-zone choice", the interior minister said, recounting his story of growing up in Britain as the son of Pakistani immigrants.

Few of the candidates appear ready to heed the warnings.

Andrea Leadsom, who came second to May in the 2016 leadership election, also saw her candidacy come to an end after winning 11 votes.

Michael Gove said he was feeling confident and voted for "the best candidate".

But other candidates warn that pursuing a no-deal Brexit - the route Johnson has endorsed - would cause economic damage and would fail to pass Parliament.

Uncharacteristically, Johnson has shied away from press appearances, and in the past month granted a single face-to-face media interview, a move his critics say is created to avoid him wrecking his campaign with trademark colorful indiscretions.

Twenty-four hours before Thursday's balloting, Johnson launched his formal campaign.

Grassroots party members then pick the victor, who will go on to become prime minister.

He argues that if Britain is prepared for a no-deal Brexit, the European Union will bend to his argument to remove the so-called Northern Irish backstop to prevent a return to a hard border with Ireland if there is no agreed future trade deal.

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