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Race to be Britain’s next leader begins, dominated by Brexit

Published:Monday | June 10, 2019 | 10:14 AM
A police officer stands guard outside the door of 10 Downing Street in London, Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Leading lawmakers from Britain’s governing party battled over Brexit as the contest to become the next Conservative prime minister officially kicked off Monday, when nominations were closing.

The decision of who will replace Prime Minister Theresa May affects all Britons, but will be made only by members of the Conservative Party.

Ahead of a 5 p.m. (1600 GMT, noon EDT) deadline to submit nomination papers, almost a dozen contenders were already battling it out over tax policy, past drug use — and, of course, Britain’s stalled departure from the European Union.

The winner will face the challenge of breaking Britain’s impasse over Brexit, an issue that has bedevilled politicians for three years and ultimately defeated Theresa May.

May stepped down Friday as Conservative leader after failing to secure Parliament’s backing for her EU withdrawal deal.

She will remain caretaker prime minister until the party picks its new leader, a process expected to take until late July.

Eleven candidates have declared they are running, including former Cabinet minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

For all of them, the key issue is Brexit.

The Conservatives have been hammered in recent European and local elections as voters punish the party for failing to leave the 28-nation EU.

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