London, June 10 (IANS) As many as 11 Tory leaders have thrown their hats in the ring to become the leader of the Conservative Party and, therefore Prime Minister, following the resignation of Theresa May.
The Tory candidates were supposed to submit their names between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday and must count on the support of at least eight of their colleagues. May, who officially resigned on June 7, will continue as acting Prime Minister until her replacement is found.
However, the UK’s media is having a field day following disclosures of drug abuse by some of the candidates in the race to become the next Prime Minister od Britain.
While Environment Secretary Michael Gove in an interview acknowledged that he had taken cocaine during his time as a journalist over 20 years ago, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had eaten cannabis yogurt when travelling through India in his youth, Efe news reported.
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart said he smoked opium at a wedding in Iran, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, Health Secretary Matt Hancock have admitted to having tried cannabis at university.
Former Foreign Secretary and pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson said he tried cannabis and cocaine as a teenager.
On the Brexit, the former Mayor of London said he would refuse to pay the 39 billion pound divorce bill unless the bloc offered further concessions in the deal. He has adopted a hardline stance, threatening to leave the European Union with or without a deal on October 31.
Raab has threatened to suspend Parliament as a way to force a deal, while Gove has suggested he would be open to another delay in the process. Hancock and Hunt, on the other hand, want to ensure the UK leaves with a Brexit deal.
The candidates are expected to formally present their campaigns on Monday, setting out their plans on how to navigate the choppy waters of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
May resigned after her withdrawal deal, which had been signed off by the EU, was rejected repeatedly by lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Meanwhile, according to the party norms, 313 MPs will vote for their preferred candidate in a series of eliminatory ballots on June 13, 18 and 20 until only two leaders remain in the race, Efe news reported.
To pass the first round of voting, each candidate must secure at least 17 votes, including their own. If they all managed to make the threshold, then the one with the lowest support will be ruled out.
In the second round, on June 18, they would need 33 votes each and, again, the one with the lowest support is eliminated.
From June 22 onwards, the two finalists will begin their charm offensives with a series of debates and campaign meetings ahead of postal vote by around 125,000 Conservative Party cardholders, who will decide the country’s next Prime Minister that week.
Johnson, Raab, Gove, Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Leadsom, Hancock, Stewart, McVey, Gyimah, former Immigration Secretary Mark Harper are among the declared candidates looking to take over the UK’s traditionalist, centre-right party.