Johnson Tops Tory Leader Vote as EU Stands Firm: Brexit Update
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Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt will go into a final ballot of Conservative members of Parliament this afternoon to choose a shortlist of two candidates to succeed Theresa May. European Union leaders meeting in Brussels made clear the next British prime minister won’t be able to change the Brexit deal.
Must read: When Boris Johnson Talks Brexit, MPs Hear What They Want to Hear
Front-runner Boris Johnson won 157 votes, Gove was second with 61 votes followed by Hunt on 59. Home Secretary Sajid Javid was eliminatedResults of final ballot at 6 p.m. Tory activists will then pick a winner in JulyJohnson’s campaign has war-gamed holding a general election within monthsChancellor Philip Hammond said next PM might have to hold election or referendum to break impassePound rises
With Javid Out, Davidson Backs Gove (3:15 p.m.)
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, said that with Sajid Javid out of the race, Michael Gove was now her “preferred” candidate to become Tory leader and prime minister.
Gove is “smart, articulate and always on top of the detail,” Davidson said of her fellow Scot on Twitter. Though she doesn’t have a vote in Thursday’s final ballot of Tory members of Parliament, Davidson is an influential figure in the party, and with just two votes separating Gove and Jeremy Hunt this morning, her endorsement could be significant.
Varadkar: No Brexit Deal Without Irish Backstop (2:15 p.m.)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters in Brussels the EU remains united in its refusal to renegotiate the Brexit deal, with leaders only willing to consider changes to the non-binding political declaration. Varadkar said that meant the Irish backstop provision, which all Tory candidates have promised to change, must stay.
“There’s no withdrawal agreement without a backstop, and there’s no implementation period without a withdrawal agreement,” Varadkar said, following talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. He warned patience was running out in the bloc.
“There is very much a strong view across the European Union that there should be no more extensions,” he said. “I think any extension could really only happen if it were to facilitate something like a general election in the U.K., or perhaps even something like a second referendum."
Javid Bows Out, ‘Humbled’ by Support (2 p.m.)
Sajid Javid, who was eliminated in the Tory leadership voting this morning, has posted a statement on Twitter thanking his supporters -- but without saying who he will support in Thursday’s final ballot of MPs.
“I’m proud to have made the case for being a party that heals divisions, protects our precious Union, embraces modern Britain, and brings Conservative values to new audiences,” Javid said. “And that my team have navigated this contest in an honest, decent and straightforward way.”
Johnson Can Be Pragmatic, Luxembourg PM Says (1:30 p.m.)
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister he will have to deal with the EU on the basis of agreements made by his predecessor Theresa May.
“I’m sure that he can be very pragmatic as the former mayor of a capital,” Bettel told reporters as he arrived at an EU Summit in Brussels. “It’s the choice of the Tories. It’s not my choice. Brexit also was not my choice. If they choose Boris Johnson he will have to deal with us on agreements we’ve done with Theresa May.”
Gove, Hunt in Fight to Face Johnson in Run-Off (1 p.m.)
Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt will battle it out for second place in voting by Tory MPs this afternoon after Sajid Javid was eliminated in Thursday morning’s ballot.
Boris Johnson topped the poll again with 157 votes, up from 143 on Wednesday and will face Gove, who won 61 votes, up from 51, or Hunt, who won 59, up from 54, in a ballot of Conservative party members next month.
Hunt and Gove have two-and-a-half hours to persuade the 34 who backed Javid to switch support to them before voting begins again at 3:30 p.m. The final result will be announced at 6 p.m.
BOE Sees Rising No-Deal Concern in Markets (12:15 p.m.)
The Bank of England said the perceived risk of the U.K. leaving the European Union without a deal had risen, even as policy makers unanimously voted to keep policy unchanged.
While officials, led by Governor Mark Carney, said they still see the need for interest-rate hikes in coming years if their forecasts bear out, they also acknowledged that investors are taking a different view than the bank’s assumption of a smooth Brexit.
Hammond: Tory Rivals’ Plans Not Deliverable (11:45 a.m.)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond suggested none of the Tory remaining leadership candidates would be able to deliver on their Brexit and spending promises without breaking fiscal discipline, saying they were all “addressing a certain audience” in their campaigns.
“It’s about how they will handle the real world situation they will find themselves in,” Hammond told Bloomberg, declining to say who he voted for in the contest. “What they are all suggesting, as I think I have signaled many times, is unlikely to be deliverable.”
Whoever becomes prime minister will need to stick to “fiscal responsibility,” Hammond said. “If they throw that away they will live to regret it.”
Johnson Light on Detail, Optimistic on Britain (11.20 a.m.)
In an interview with London’s Evening Standard newspaper, Boris Jonson continued his strategy of giving very little detail about his plans for government. He promised to get Brexit “over the line’’ and then change the national conversation, with tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and bringing the “excitement’’ back.
He was vague on the expansion of London’s Heathrow airport and the high-speed rail link from the capital to Manchester, but the newspaper concluded he would continue with both.
Even more notable was the newspaper’s op-ed supporting him. It concluded that Johnson wasn’t promising Brexit by Oct. 31, might be able to sell a repackaged version of the existing deal with Brussels, and could even have the political room to back a second referendum. As the paper is edited by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, its analysis of the state of Conservative politics is often astute.
Javid Says He’s ‘Quietly Confident’ (10:15 a.m.)
Tory leadership candidate Sajid Javid, who needs to pick up ground on Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove to reach the final pair, said he’s “‘quietly confident” of getting through.
“Colleagues know what a historic decision it is,” he told reporters waiting outside the voting room in Westminster.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg was among the early voters, confirming he backed Boris Johnson. Asked if he thought it was now inevitable that the front-runner would become prime minister, Rees-Mogg replied: “Nothing is inevitable but death and taxes, but he has a good chance.”
Outside the room, backers of the various candidates frantically crossed names off their lists, at times relying on journalists to identify some of the more obscure Tory backbenchers.
Fourth Round of Tory Voting Begins (10 a.m.)
Conservative Party members of Parliament are voting in the fourth round of the leadership contest to succeed Theresa May as prime minister.
It’s the first of two voting rounds scheduled on Thursday as the Tories whittle the remaining candidates down to two from four. Results are expected at about 1 p.m., with the second vote held in the afternoon. The final pairing should be known shortly after 6 p.m., and they’ll then be put to a month-long vote of 160,000 grassroots party members.
Rutte Hopes Next PM Will Change U.K. Position (8:20 a.m.)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the European Union will only grant a further Brexit extension to the U.K. if the new prime minister has a plan for getting a deal agreed. He confirmed that negotiations on the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened, but said “certain changes” could be made to the political declaration accompanying it.
The Irish border backstop cannot be time-limited because “it’s the only logical result given the red lines,” Rutte told BBC Radio 4. “If the backstop would have a time limit, that would mean a hard border,” and that would mean an end to the Good Friday Agreement and a return to violence, Rutte said.
The new prime minister will have to be flexible on the U.K.’s red lines, he said.
“I hope that the campaign is done in poetry and governing is in prose,” Rutte said. “That when they will read all the briefs and get aware of all the details -- where we are at the moment in terms of Brexit negotiations -- that they will realize that something has to change in terms of the British position,” Rutte said.
Davis: Johnson’s Success Will Eclipse Mistakes (7:50 a.m.)
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said Boris Johnson will be such a success as prime minister that it will eclipse his past mistakes, including his decision when mayor of London to spend 43 million pounds ($55 million) of taxpayers’ money on a bridge that was never built.
“I’m talking about a man who’s going to make the economy much bigger than it is, and that is going to make that sum of money look tiny in comparison,” Davis told BBC Radio when asked about the botched Garden Bridge project. “He’ll be a very good prime minister.”
Davis, who originally supported Dominic Raab in the leadership race before switching to Johnson, said the former foreign secretary’s performance when they were both in Cabinet has convinced him that he will live up to his pledge to take the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31.
“He’ll make the most of it, he’ll give an upbeat tone to this country,” Davis said. “We’ve had three years of people doing this country down, Boris believes we’ve got a great future.”
Rudd: Johnson Should End ‘Game Playing’ in Votes (7:15 a.m.)
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said front-runner Boris Johnson should “repudiate” stories about vote lending in the Tory leadership election, amid reports his supporters are trying to fix the process so he has a run-off against someone he sees as an easier opponent.
“Each MP has a really important responsibility to think about who can deliver us from this real difficulty we’re in and who will be a prime minister,” Rudd told BBC Radio. “I would call on Boris himself to repudiate the information coming out -- ‘friends of Boris’ saying this, saying one thing. This is a serious moment, we don’t need that sort of game playing going on in Parliament.”
Rudd, who is backing Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said some supporters of Rory Stewart -- who was eliminated from the race on Wednesday -- had told her they would be switching their support to Hunt. “Most are saying they don’t want to go public,” she said. “A lot of people are quite bruised by this process.”
U.K. Tories Prepare to Pick Final Two Candidates to Succeed MayNext U.K. Premier Might Need to Go Back to People, Hammond SaysJohnson’s Backers Eye Early U.K. Election, Despite Brexit Crisis
--With assistance from David Goodman, Thomas Penny and Patrick Donahue.
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