Boris Johnson builds lead in race to be UK prime minister

Boris Johnson arrives at BBC studios to take part in a TV debate with candidates campaigning to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, in London. (Reuters)
Updated 18 June 2019

Boris Johnson builds lead in race to be UK prime minister

  • Johnson won 126 of the 313 votes cast Tuesday in a second-round ballot of Conservative Party lawmakers
  • Johnson added a dozen votes to his tally from last week, securing more votes than the combined total for the next three challengers: Hunt with 46 votes, Gove with 41 and Stewart with 37

LONDON: Boris Johnson increased his lead Tuesday in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister as one of his rivals was eliminated in a party vote, leaving a five-strong field.
Johnson won 126 of the 313 votes cast Tuesday in a second-round ballot of Conservative Party lawmakers, all but guaranteeing he will be one of the final two candidates in a runoff that will be decided by party members.
Dominic Raab, who tried to vie with Johnson for the votes of committed Brexit supporters, got 30 votes, three short of the threshold needed to go through to the next round.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Home Secretary Sajid Javid all remain contenders in what is now effectively a race for second place.
All five candidates were taking part in a live television debate on Tuesday evening, two days after Johnson skipped another televised debate despite being the front-runner for the post.
Tory lawmakers will vote again Wednesday and, if needed, Thursday. The final two contenders will go to a postal ballot of all 160,000 Conservative Party members nationwide.
The winner, due to be announced in late July, will replace Theresa May as both party leader and British prime minister. May stepped down as party leader earlier this month after failing to secure Parliament’s approval for her Brexit deal.
Johnson, a flamboyant former foreign secretary, was already the front-runner after last week’s first round of voting in a race that started out with 10 competitors. He has since been backed by several lawmakers who have dropped out, including hard-line Brexit supporters Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom and moderate Matt Hancock.
Johnson added a dozen votes to his tally from last week, securing more votes than the combined total for the next three challengers: Hunt with 46 votes, Gove with 41 and Stewart with 37.
All the contenders vow they will succeed where May failed and lead Britain out of the European Union, though they differ about how they plan to break the country’s Brexit deadlock.
Johnson — a leading figure in the 2016 campaign to leave the EU — says the UK must leave the bloc on the scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal to smooth the way.
The EU says it won’t reopen the Brexit agreement it struck with May’s government, which has been rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament. Many economists and businesses say a no-deal exit would cause economic turmoil by ripping up the rules that govern trade between Britain and the EU.
Johnson’s rivals are divided over how willing they are to contemplate a no-deal Brexit. Javid says no-deal would be preferable to further delay, while Hunt warns it would cause “potentially severe economic disruption” and Gove says he would be willing to postpone Brexit further in order to secure a deal.
Johnson’s team is keeping him on a tight leash, wary of gaffes that could derail his campaign. Johnson is admired by many Conservatives for his ability to energize voters, but others mistrust him for his long record of misleading and false statements, verbal blunders and erratic performance in high office.
Stewart, who started the campaign as a rank outsider but has electrified the race, accused Johnson of selling “fairy tales” about how he would solve the Brexit puzzle.
Stewart’s energetic campaign and call for compromise has won praise from many outside the Conservative Party. He urged Tory lawmakers to put him into the final two and give the party a distinct alternative to Johnson.
“I would love to go against him in the final two in order to give members the chance to choose whether they want Boris’s Brexit or mine,” Stewart said.


Danish PM in tears after visiting mink farmer whose animals were culled

Updated 26 November 2020

Danish PM in tears after visiting mink farmer whose animals were culled

COPENHAGEN: Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen broke down on Thursday when visiting a mink farmer who lost his herd following the government’s order this month to cull all 17 million mink in the country to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Frederiksen has faced opposition calls to resign and a vote of no confidence in parliament after an order by the government in early November, which it later admitted was illegal, to cull the country’s entire mink population.
The order was given after authorities found COVID-19 outbreaks at hundreds of mink farms, including a new strain of the virus, suspected of being able to compromise the efficacy of vaccines.
“We have two generations of really skilled mink farmers, father and son, who in a very, very short time have had their life’s work shattered,” Frederiksen told reporters after a meeting with a mink farmer and his son at their farm near Kolding in Western Denmark.
“It has been emotional for them, and... Sorry. It has for me too,” Frederiksen said with a wavering voice, pausing for breath in between words.
The move to cull Denmark’s entire mink population, one of the world’s biggest and highly valued for the quality of its fur, has left the government reeling after it admitted it did not have the legal basis to order the culling of healthy mink.
After a tumultuous couple of weeks since the order was given on Nov. 4, the Minister of Agriculture, Mogens Jensen, stepped down last week after an internal investigation revealed a flawed political process.
Denmark has proposed a ban on all mink breeding in the country until 2022. Tage Pedersen, head of the Danish mink breeders’ association, said this month the industry, which employs around 6,000 people and exports fur pelts worth $800 million annually, is finished.
Denmark’s opposition says the cull of healthy mink should not have been initiated before compensation plans were in place for the owners and workers at some 1,100 mink farms.