Boris Johnson launches bid to become UK Prime Minister

Jacob Rees-Moog

Jacob Rees-Moog

If Boris Johnson, the favorite to succeed Theresa May, suspends the United Kingdom parliament in order to ram through a "no-deal" Brexit, then British lawmakers "will bring him down", fellow Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart has warned. A postal ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership will then be held to pick a leader.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, who has not publicly endorsed a candidate, wrote on Thursday to all remaining leadership contenders to urge them to stick to existing budget rules until at least the next scheduled election in 2022. If they all clear that hurdle, the one with the lowest number of votes is knocked out.

Johnson kicked off his official campaign on Wednesday with a pledge to lead Britain out of the European Union on October 31 and a warning to his divided Conservative Party that "delay means defeat".

Bookmakers have ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson as their odds-on favourite to win the contest to replace her.

Johnson said that if parliament blocks Brexit completely, "we will reap the whirlwind and we will face mortal retribution from the electorate".

But Thursday's voting revealed each candidate's current level of support. They will be put to a postal ballot of party members, with the victor due to be announced the week of July 22.

Lawmakers Esther McVey, Mark Harper and Andrea Leadsom all failed to reach the threshold of 17 votes needed to get to the next round.

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The contest has so far been dominated by Brexit and arguments over whether a deal can be renegotiated with the European Union by 31 October and whether talking up a no deal Brexit is a plausible promise.

"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.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab got 27 votes, Home Secretary Sajid Javid got 23 and Overseas Development Secretary Rory Stewart got 19. "Even if it means my resigning the whip and leaving the party, I will not allow this country to be taken out of the European Union on a no-deal Brexit without the approval of this House". "That is why we are committed to taking part in the Channel 4 televised debates this Sunday and the BBC programme next Tuesday".

The second round next week will have a threshold of 33 votes, anyone polling less than that will be eliminated.

After further rounds of voting next week, the party hopes to be down to the last two by the end of June 20.

After weeks of hustings around the country, the 160,000 grass-roots Conservative party members pick the victor, with the result announced in the week beginning July 22.

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