Boris Johnson gains momentum in race for new British PM

The list of candidates vying to be Britain’s next prime minister will be finalised on Monday following a lively weekend of news, from hard lines on Brexit to some lines they’d rather forget.

Boris Johnson, the front-runner to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, took a tough stance on Brexit in a Sunday Times interview. He said he would leave the bloc with or without a deal in October if he was in charge, reviving the prospect of no-deal. He also said he would scrap the Irish border backstop and withhold £39 billion owed to the European Union until an agreement is reached.

As Johnson saw his stock rise with the more hardline Brexiteers lining up to back him, Michael Gove’s was fading following an unfortunately timed confession. The current environment secretary and former justice secretary admitted to taking cocaine decades ago, prompting accusations of hypocrisy. In an interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr, he said it was “a mistake which I profoundly regret.” On Brexit, he talked of his plans to renegotiate a deal with the EU.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned against the dangers of a general election that could see a Labour Party victory and said the UK must exit the EU with a deal. He won the support of Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, while Home Secretary Sajid Javid got the backing of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

The nominations for leadership will close at 17:00 UK time on Monday. Candidates need the backing of eight lawmakers to advance to the next stage.

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