Johnson tops first ballot in Tory leadership contest

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Thursday cruised through the first round of voting in the race to succeed Theresa May as Conservative Party leader and as prime minister - gaining significantly more votes than his rivals and taking him a significant step closer to 10 Downing Street.

Conservative Party legislators will hold more elimination votes next week, with the final two contenders put to a vote of 160,000 Conservative Party members nationwide and the victor will become Conservative leader and prime minister.

Following a televised debate on Sunday, candidates will need a minimum 33 votes to get through Tuesday's second round.

In all, 313 party MPs cast their votes, organisers of the election announced in the House of Commons.

Johnson's tough line on the European Union has won him the support of many Brexiteers in the Conservative Party, who put leaving the bloc about all other issues.

The second round is due on June 18 with further ballots planned for June 19 and June 20 until there are just two candidates.

"This is now neck-and-neck going into the next round", Stewart told reporters after watching the results announcement.

In his campaign, on the issue of Brexit, Mr Hancock vowed to go to Brussels to broker a time limit to the controversial Irish backstop and said MPs would block a no-deal exit.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be Britain's prime minister, promised he would take the United Kingdom out of the European Union by October 31, saying that only by preparing to leave without an agreement could a no-deal Brexit be prevented.

Mr Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister, has spent weeks wooing Conservative MPs, staying out of the spotlight with a low-key campaign at odds with his flamboyant publicity stunts of the past.

Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey dropped out of the race after failing to meet the 17-vote threshold. That is miles ahead of any other candidate.

European Union leaders are adamant that the agreement won't be altered, and economists warn that a no-deal departure would cause economic chaos for the United Kingdom.

But yesterday's voting revealed each candidate's current level of support.

'We face a crucial choice: who can negotiate some better choices than the bad ones we face, ' he said.

A lot can still happen between now and the final membership vote that will ultimately install the next Prime Minister, but whatever the outcome the situation will be far from settled. "This serious moment calls for a serious leader".

Somebody who attempted to subvert our constitution, our liberties, our parliament... who dared to stand as prime minister and claim they could lock the doors on parliament would not deserve to be prime minister.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, placed sixth, thanked his supporters, saying it was "terrific to have more votes from colleagues than I could have hoped for".


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