UK PM candidate Johnson wins by far the most support in first round of voting

Boris Johnson surged closer to power on Thursday when he won by far the most support from Conservative Party lawmakers in the first round of the contest to replace PM May
Updated 13 June 2019
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UK PM candidate Johnson wins by far the most support in first round of voting

  • Johnson got 114 votes, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in second place on 43 votes and environment minister Michael Gove third with 37 votes
  • Three candidates - Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Mark Harper - were eliminated after they failed to receive the required minimum of 17 votes

LONDON: Boris Johnson, who has pledged to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31, surged closer to power on Thursday when he won by far the most support from Conservative Party lawmakers in the first round of the contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May.
Three years since voting 52%-48% to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is heading towards a possible crisis over Brexit as most of the candidates vying to succeed May are prepared to leave on Oct. 31 without a deal.
But the British parliament has indicated it will try to thwart a no-deal exit, which investors warn would send shock waves through financial markets and the world economy.
Johnson, the face of the official campaign to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, won the support of 114 Conservative lawmakers in the first round of the contest to replace May. A total of 313 lawmakers voted.
He said: "Thank you to my friends and colleagues in the Conservative & Unionist Party for your support. I am delighted to win the first ballot, but we have a long way to go."
His closest rivals in the first round were: Jeremy Hunt, the foreign minister, who garnered 43 votes; Michael Gove, environment minister, 37 votes and Dominic Raab, former Brexit minister, 27 votes.
Sajid Javid, interior minister, came fifth with 23 votes. Matt Hancock won 20 votes and Rory Stewart 19. Three were knocked out: Andrea Leadsom, former leader of the House of Commons, Mark Harper and Esther McVey.
Betting markets give Johnson, who has a long record of scandals and gaffes, a 70% probability of winning the top job.
The second round is due on June 18 with further ballots planned for June 19 and June 20 until there are just two candidates. A postal ballot of the wider Conservative Party membership will then be held to pick a leader.
A new prime minister should be chosen by the end of July. There had been speculation that the contest could be accelerated due to Johnson's strong lead but there was no immediate sign of rivals bowing out of the race.
"Thank you to all my colleagues who voted for me," Stewart said. "We can win this."
Johnson kicked off his official campaign on Wednesday with a pledge to lead Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 and a warning to his divided Conservative Party that "delay means defeat".
"After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31," Johnson, the 54-year-old former foreign minister and London mayor, said then. "I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome."
Johnson, whose unconventional style has helped him shrug off a series of scandals in the past, has won over much of his party by arguing that only he can rescue the Conservatives by delivering Brexit.
The EU has refused to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement reached with May last November and rejected by parliament three times. Ireland has indicated it is not willing to change the Irish border "backstop" that upset the Northern Irish party which props up May's minority government.


Hong Kong police begin to clear streets of protesters

An ambulance is pictured surrounded by thousands of protesters dressed in black during a new rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 52 sec ago
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Hong Kong police begin to clear streets of protesters

  • Nearly 2 million of the city’s 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organizers

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police and protesters faced off Monday as authorities began trying to clear the streets of a few hundred who remained near the city government headquarters after massive demonstrations that stretched deep into the night before.
The police asked for cooperation in clearing the road. Protesters, many in masks and other gear to guard against possible use of tear gas, responded with chants, some kneeling in front of the officers. The move came after activists rejected an apology from the city’s top leader for her handling of legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony.
Hundreds of protesters sat on and along a main road through downtown, but they were scattered over a relatively wide area.
Activists called on Hong Kong residents to boycott classes and work, though it was unclear how many might heed that call.
Nearly 2 million of the city’s 7 million people turned out on Sunday, according to estimates by protest organizers. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the “peak period” of the march. A week earlier as many as 1 million people demonstrated to voice their concern over Hong Kong’s relations with mainland China in one of the toughest tests of the territory’s special status since Beijing took control in a 1997 handover.
After daybreak Monday, police announced that they want to clear the streets. Soon after, police lined up several officers deep and faced off against several hundred demonstrators on a street in central Hong Kong.
The night before, as protesters reached the march’s end thousands gathered outside the city government headquarters and the office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who on Saturday suspended her effort to force passage of the bill.
Hong Kong residents worry that allowing some suspects to be sent for trial in mainland China would be another of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedoms and legal autonomy. One concern is that the law might be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials.
The protesters are demanding that Lam scrap the proposal for good and that she step down.
Protesters are also angered over the forceful tactics by police use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures as demonstrators broke through barricades outside the city government’s headquarters to quell unrest during demonstrations on Wednesday, and over Lam’s decision to call the clashes a riot. That worsens the potential legal consequences for those involved.
In a statement issued late Sunday, Lam noted the demonstrations and said the government “understands that these views have been made out of love and care for Hong Kong.”
“The chief executive apologizes to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledges to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public,” it said.
Not enough, said the pro-democracy activists.
“This is a total insult to and fooling the people who took to the street!” the Civil Human Rights Front said in a statement.
Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule. But some were skeptical that having Lam step down would help.
“It doesn’t really matter because the next one would be just as evil,” said Kayley Fung, 27.
Many here believe Hong Kong’s legal autonomy has been significantly diminished despite Beijing’s insistence that it is still honoring its promise, dubbed “one country, two systems,” that the territory can retain its own social, legal and political system for 50 years after the handover in 1997.
After Lam announced she was suspending the legislation to avoid more violence and allow additional debate, Chinese government officials issued multiple statements backing that decision. Lam, however, made clear she was not withdrawing it.
She has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and also defended how the police dealt with last week’s clashes with demonstrators.
Lam insists the extradition legislation is needed if Hong Kong is to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.
So far, China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.
Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among moves in recent years that have unnerved many in the city of 7 million.