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Conservative contenders line up to replace Cameron

Published:Thursday | June 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Britain has not yet quit the European Union, but it has already left politics-as-usual far behind.

Conservative Party contenders began to emerge yesterday to replace Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the bloc, while the head of the opposition Labour Party tried to cling to power in the face of a growing rebellion in party ranks.

Cameron announced his resignation after British voters decided last week, against his advice, that the United Kingdom should leave the 28-nation European Union. His successor will get the challenge or the poisoned chalice of becoming the country's next leader and negotiating Britain's exit.


The first contender to make it official was Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, who said he was running because "I don't see anybody who provides a compelling answer" to the question of how to heal a deeply divided nation.

The 43-year-old Crabb, raised by a single mother in public housing, said he would offer "resilience, optimism, humility, strength." Although he backed the 'Remain' side in the referendum, he promised to deliver a "negotiated exit" from the EU.

Crabb is running with Business Secretary Sajid Javid who would serve as his finance minister on what has been dubbed a blue-collar ticket. Both men come from working-class backgrounds, in contrast to upper-crust front-runner Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London.

Johnson, who led the 'Leave' side in the referendum, has the support of several senior Tory lawmakers. Environment Secretary Liz Truss wrote in the Daily Telegraph that she was backing the 52-year-old Johnson because the new leader must be "someone who believes in, and campaigned for, leaving the EU".

Home Secretary Theresa May, who backed the 'Remain' side but is seen as competent and experienced, is also expected to run.

After nominations close at noon today, Conservative lawmakers will vote and whittle down the candidates to two. Those names will be put to a postal vote of all party members, with the result expected in early September.

The opposition Labour Party is also in turmoil at the top, with leader Jeremy Corbyn resisting intense pressure to resign.

Labour members of parliament passed a no-confidence vote on Corbyn by 172-40 on Tuesday but Corbyn says he has the support of grass-roots party members and will not resign.