Candidates to become Britain’s next prime minister clashed over Brexit strategy at their first debate on Sunday (Jun 16) but the frontrunner, Boris Johnson, dodged the confrontation. Profile of Boris Johnson. (AFP/Gillian HANDYSIDE/Kun TIAN) The 90-minute debate on Channel 4 featured the five remaining candidates and an empty podium for Johnson, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary and mayor of London. In sometimes ill-tempered exchanges, four of the five candidates said they would seek to renegotiate the draft Brexit divorce deal agreed with Brussels even though EU leaders have repeatedly ruled this out. The fifth, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, said he would press ahead with the current agreement even though it has been rejected by parliament three times this year in a process that has forced out the current prime minister, Theresa May. Stewart is the candidate with the lowest number of endorsements from fellow Conservative MPs but has waged a strong campaign on social media, reaching out to centre-ground voters from different parties. He repeatedly challenged the others to detail their own Brexit plans and accused them of “machismo”, earning rounds of applause from the studio audience for his comments. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who supported staying in the… Read full this story
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