Battle heats up to tackle Boris Johnson and be British PM

Photo: AFP

The battle to make the two-man shortlist to become Britain's prime minister, which will almost certainly include Boris Johnson, heats up on Wednesday when another contender will be eliminated.

After a fractious TV debate, in which Brexit figurehead Johnson managed to avoid any trademark gaffes and emerged largely unscathed after an onslaught from his four remaining rivals, the Conservative Party's 313 MPS will vote once again to remove the candidate with the least support.

The former foreign minister grabbed more votes than his three nearest challengers combined in Tuesday's second-round, and the only question appears to be who will eventually join him in the final two to face the party's 160,000 members.

Johnson had ducked out of the first TV debate on Sunday and has carefully stage-managed his media engagements in a contest that remains his to lose.

He cast himself Tuesday as the one politician able to bring Britain successfully out of the European Union and therefore deliver the Brexit that UK voters called for three years ago.

"We must come out on October 31 because otherwise I'm afraid we face a catastrophic loss of confidence in politics," said Johnson in the hour-long BBC question-and-answer session with voters.

"I think the British people are thoroughly fed up."

But neither he nor the others raised their hands when asked by the BBC to do so if they could "guarantee" that Brexit will happen by October 31.

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