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28.05.2019 Europe

A Brexit spectrum of candidates vying to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May

By RFI
REUTERS/Hannah McKay
MAY 28, 2019 EUROPE

The race for the top job in Britain is heating up, as 10 Conservative Party candidates, from current and former cabinet members to MPs jockey for position and media manage their statements to the public on Tuesday.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Michael Gove, put his position forward on social media, saying that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could take over the government with the help of Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and Brexit will never happen if they come to power.

"We must leave the EU before we have an election," Gove said on twitter, "otherwise we will be punished at the ballot box, Corbyn will be in Number 10 propped up by the SNP, and Brexit may well be reversed altogether."

International development secretary Rory Stewart says a no-deal policy would be "damaging" to Britain, asdoes fellow candidate and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a rising star who flip flopped before backing May's EU withdrawal deal.

A no-deal Brexit would be committing “political suicide”, driving the Conservative party to “extinction”, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and prime minister candidate wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.

But among his rivals for the prime minister position, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson say that Britain must be prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is stepping down from the position as head of the Conservative party on 7 June, remaining in position until her successor is chosen, told reporters outside the EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday that "the best option for the UK is to leave the EU with a deal."

Johnson appears to be a frontrunner for the position, saying that the UK would get out of the EU “deal or no deal.” Raab launched his platform by saying that he would look for "a fairer deal from the EU as we leave".

Blue collar Conservative MP Esther McVey and former work and pensions secretary put her hat into the ring, saying she wants a firm break with the EU.

It is not clear where candidate Sajid Javid would put himself on the Brexit spectrum, but the former banker had originally backed the remain position before becoming pro-Brexit.

Andrea Leadsom just quit her position as leader of the House of Commons last week, a move which helped push May to resign. She had also ran in 2016 but pulled out of the race after she was highly criticized for saying that she would have an advantage over child-free May because she was a mother.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove offered quite a different stance on EU nationals post Brexit, saying he would offer free British citizenship to three million EU nationals who lived in the country during the 2016 referendum.

And last but not least, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse is the 10th candidate to run for the top office, who has suggested a compromise Brexit that would take on the view of leavers and remainers.

"We need to end the Brexit paralysis," he wrote in The Sun newspaper.

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