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Candidates face first cull in battle to be British PM

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The 10 candidates running to replace Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May face the first round of voting on Thursday — when at least one will get the chop.

Conservative MPs hold their first secret ballot in the governing party’s leadership contest as they begin whittling down the contenders.

All 313 lawmakers can vote and any candidate who does not garner the support of 16 colleagues will drop out. If they all clear that hurdle, the one with the lowest number of votes is knocked out.

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May, who remains prime minister, stepped down as party leader on Friday, having failed to deliver her plan for taking Britain out of the European Union after nearly three years in the post.

AFP /Candidates to succeed Theresa May 

Bookmakers have ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson as their odds-on favourite to win the contest to replace her.

The former London mayor broke his silence to launch his campaign on Wednesday, saying he would only take Britain out of the EU without a deal as a “last resort” as he promised to unify a country deeply divided over Brexit.

A cross-party effort to block a chaotic end to the 46-year partnership failed on Wednesday, potentially leaving more room for manoeuvre for a future premier.

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Johnson said that if parliament blocks Brexit completely, “we will reap the whirlwind and we will face mortal retribution from the electorate”.

– Drugs and backbiting –

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom are considered Johnson’s closest challengers.

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The contest so far has been dominated by revelations of past drug-taking by candidates and bickering over the best way to resolve the Brexit impasse.

But Thursday’s voting will reveal each candidate’s current level of support.

The ballot takes place in a Houses of Parliament committee room between 10:00am (0900 GMT) and 12:00pm (1100 GMT), with the results expected to be announced around an hour later.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former pensions secretary Esther McVey and ex-immigration minister Mark Harper are considered the three most vulnerable to dropping out.

AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI May, who remains prime minister, stepped down as party leader on Friday, having failed to deliver her plan for taking Britain out of the European Union

McVey is pursuing a no-deal Brexit, arguing that the agreement struck by May keeps Britain too closely tied to the EU, while Hancock is against no-deal.

Harper says an extension would be needed beyond the October 31 deadline to secure a deal but he would be prepared to leave the European Union without one rather than remain in the bloc.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched his campaign on Wednesday, pledging to get a revised version of May’s deal through parliament by October 31.

“We can’t risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort-zone choice,” the interior minister said, recounting his story of growing up in Britain as the son of Pakistani immigrants.

– TV test –

Javid, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab have enough publicly-declared backers to make it through to the second round.

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International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, the contender most vehemently against leaving the EU without a deal, also hopes to make it past the first hurdle.

The survivors face their first live television debate on Sunday in a 90-minute programme on Channel 4.

They have another round of hustings before Conservative MPs on Monday before Tuesday’s second ballot, when the bar rises from 16 backers to 32, again with the contender with the fewest votes dropping out.

After further rounds of voting next week, the party hopes to be down to the last two by the end of June 20.

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After weeks of hustings around the country, the 160,000 grass-roots Conservative party members pick the winner, with the result announced in the week beginning July 22.

May will then step down as prime minister and the new leader of the largest party in parliament will be appointed as PM by Queen Elizabeth II.


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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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