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Race to succeed UK PM May centers on 'no deal' Brexit battle

Updated: 2019-05-26 23:47
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to deliver a statement at Downing Street in Westminster, London, May 24, 2019. [Photo/IC]

LONDON - The prospect of a "no deal" Brexit was fast becoming the central battle of the race to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday, as environment minister Michael Gove became the latest candidate to declare.

May said on Friday she was quitting over her failure to deliver Brexit, potentially opening the way for a new leader who could seek a more divisive split with the European Union and lead to confrontation with the bloc or a possible parliamentary election.

Setting out their pitch to the Conservative Party's largely pro-Brexit membership who will decide the outcome of the contest, four of the leadership hopefuls have said Britain must leave the EU on Oct. 31 even if this means a no-deal Brexit.

"I will fight for a fairer deal in Brussels ... if not I will be clear we will leave on WTO terms in October," former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, who bookmakers rank as the second favorite to win, told BBC TV.

"If you're not willing to walk away from a negotiation, it doesn't focus the mind of the other side ... I will not ask for an extension."

Fellow contenders Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom both made similar comments on Sunday, while former foreign minister Boris Johnson, the favorite to replace May, said on Friday: "We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal."

Gove, a leading campaigner for Brexit during the 2016 referendum campaign and a candidate in the Conservative leadership contest that May ultimately won, told reporters on Sunday that he planned to run again.

"I am ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit and ready to lead this great country," he said, without giving any detail on his plans for Brexit.

Reuters

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