LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace Theresa May as Britain’s prime minister, must face more scrutiny over his Brexit plans, his closest rival said on Friday with a taunt that his hero Winston Churchill would not shy away from the media.
FILE PHOTO: PM hopeful Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, Britain, June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Johnson has pledged that Britain will exit the European Union on Oct. 31, warning his divided Conservative Party “delay means defeat”.
He argues that if Britain is prepared for a no-deal Brexit, the EU will bend to his argument to remove the so-called Northern Irish backstop to prevent a return to a hard border with Ireland if there is no agreed future trade deal.
May resigned as Conservative leader this month having failed three times to get her divorce deal struck with the EU through parliament. The EU has repeatedly said it will not renegotiate the withdrawal deal.
With Johnson winning the support of 114 of 313 party lawmakers in the first round of voting, there has been speculation in the British media that some rivals may withdraw to allow a more unified challenge to the man who led the official campaign in 2016 for Britain to vote to leave the bloc.
Johnson’s current six remaining rivals have promised to take part in televised debates, the first of which takes place on Sunday. Johnson has not confirmed he will take part, leading to accusations the flamboyant former foreign secretary is avoiding difficult questions.
“We can only have that debate if our frontrunner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media, engaging in debates,