Conservative leadership: 10 rivals face first ballot of Tory MPs

Johnson, a former foreign secretary and leading Brexit campaigner, got 114 votes in the secret ballot among more than 300 Conservative lawmakers.

They are: Environment minister Michael Gove, Health minister Matt Hancock, Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, Interior minister Sajid Javid, Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, Former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, International development minister Rory Stewart.

Of the other 10 candidates in the first round, Jeremy Hunt, now foreign minister, garnered 43 votes; Michael Gove, now environment minister, garnered 37 votes and Dominic Raab, former Brexit minister, won 27 votes.

The result exceeded the expectations of Johnson's team and makes him nearly certain to be among the final two candidates who will be put to a vote of 160,000 party members nationwide.

But Mr. Johnson and other Brexiteers say the Conservative Party will be destroyed by angry voters if Brexit is delayed again. The next round will take place on Tuesday and the hopefuls will be whittled down to a final pair later this month to be voted on by Conservative party members.

The chancellor's remarks were widely read as directed at Johnson, who has promised to spend £10bn on a tax cut for higher earners.

The UK risks being stuck in a political "zombieland" where no decisions are taken if Parliament fails to pass a Brexit deal, Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart has warned.

Pressed directly on whether he had ever taken cocaine, Mr Johnson said: "I think the canonical account of this event when I was 19 has appeared many times and I think what most people in this country really want us to focus on is what we can do for them and what our plans are for this great country of ours". Conservative MPs are more divided, with half supporting no deal in parliament's indicative votes in March, but others - including some leadership candidates - strongly opposed.

Under the Brexit withdrawal agreement agreed previous year between outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May and her fellow EU leaders, Britain would owe the union approximately 39 billion (around 44 billion euros).

Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Mark Harper didn't receive enough votes to progress and were eliminated from the contest.

160,000 members of the conservative party elected by local members elect the victor and the result is announced during the week starting July 22nd.

Johnson has suggested that withholding the funds could give Britain leverage in the divorce talks, but Wednesday's European Union statement said no such negotiations would begin if the bill is not honoured.

"It is the only opportunity we've got".

Stewart received a boost, before Tory MPs cast their votes, when Conservative Home - the Tory grassroots website - revealed that he was now members' second favorite for the top job.

This combination photo made up of file photos shows the remaining contenders in the Conservative Party leadership race after the first round of votes on Thursday June 13, 2019.

Raab aimed to become the favored candidate of the party's "hard Brexit" wing, but has seen much of that support go to Johnson. Their names will then be presented to Conservative members in a postal ballot, with the victor due to be announced in the week of 21 July.


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