Voting closing in race to become UK’s new prime minister

LONDON — Voting is drawing to a close in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister.

Members of the governing Conservative Party have until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) to return postal ballots in the contest between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to lead the party.

The winner is to be announced Tuesday, and will take over from Prime Minister Theresa May the following day.

Johnson, a populist former mayor of London, is the strong favourite.

Several members of May’s government have said they will resign before they can be fired by Johnson over their opposition to his threat to take Britain out of the European Union without a divorce deal.

Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan quit Monday. Others, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, are set to do so on Wednesday.

The Associated Press


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By The Wall of Law July 22, 2019 Off

A tiny, unrepresentative electorate picks UK’s new leader

LONDON — Britain’s next prime minister will govern a nation of 66 million people, but only 0.25% of them had a say in the choice.

Either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will be announced Tuesday as the winner of a contest to lead the governing Conservative Party. After a formal handover of power, the victor will become prime minister the next day.

A look at how the process works:

WHO VOTES?

In Britain’s parliamentary system, voters elect a lawmaker for their local area. There are 650 of these constituencies across the U.K., and so 650 members of Parliament. The party with the most lawmakers forms a government, with the leader of that party becoming prime minister.

Parties are entitled to change leaders without going back to the voting public. It happened when Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as Labour prime minister in 2007, and when Theresa May took over from her Conservative predecessor David Cameron in 2016.

May announced her resignation last month, triggering a leadership contest in which any of the 313 Conservative legislators was eligible to run. The initial field of 10 candidates was then winnowed down to two in elimination votes by Tory lawmakers.

The final two, Hunt and Johnson, went to a runoff decided in a postal ballot of about 160,000 Conservative members across the country. To be eligible to vote, they need to have paid a 25 pound ($31) membership fee and been in the party for at least three months.

WHO ARE THEY?

The country’s leadership choice is largely in the hands of comfortably off, older white men.

According to a U.K. academic study, 70% of Conservative members are men, half are over 55, 86% are middle class or above and 97% are white — in a country where 10%-15% of the population belongs to an ethnic minority.

Most of them want Britain to leave the European Union, whatever the consequences. Two-thirds of Conservatives support leaving the EU without a divorce deal even if it damages the British economy.

Both Johnson and Hunt campaigned on a promise to take Britain out of the 28-nation bloc, deal or no deal.

HOW DOES THE HANDOVER HAPPEN?

The winner of the vote will immediately become Conservative leader, but they won’t be prime minister until a carefully choreographed political handover on Wednesday.

May is due to hold her final weekly prime minister’s questions session in the House of Commons at noon Wednesday. Then she will travel to Buckingham Palace and ask Queen Elizabeth II to invite her Conservative successor to form a government.

The next leader will go to the palace before speaking to the nation in front of his new home at 10 Downing St.

WHEN DOES THE PUBLIC GET A SAY?

Most Britons have had to watch the leadership contest — complete with campaign rallies and televised debates — as passive spectators.

The situation strikes many as undemocratic, although the criticism is often partisan. In 2007, Johnson criticized Labour’s handover from Blair to Brown without an election as “a palace coup” and compared it to the succession of Roman emperors.

He’s not so critical of the current contest.

And, in comparison to presidential systems of government, it’s relatively easy to get rid of a British prime minister.

Conservative lawmakers can trigger a no-confidence vote in their leader if 15% of them ask for it. May narrowly survived one such vote in December.

Alternately, the Labour opposition can call a no-confidence vote in the government — something that looks highly likely to happen by September. If the Conservative government lost such a vote, it would have 14 days to overturn the result with a new vote or fall, triggering a national election.

Britain’s next scheduled election is in 2022, but the incoming prime minister might call an early vote if he can’t get his plans approved, and seek a new mandate from the electorate. Even an unelected prime minister eventually has to face the judgment of the public.

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://ift.tt/2QQDXv6

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press


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By The Wall of Law July 22, 2019 Off

Lenny Kravitz Discusses His Blended Family, Calls Jason Momoa His ‘Brother’

Lenny Kravitz recently talked with U.K. publication The Times about his blended family and the “beautiful” relationship he has with his ex-wife, actress Lisa Bonet, and her husband, “Game of Thrones” star Jason Momoa.

In the interview published Saturday, Kravitz said he and Bonet put the work into rebuilding a relationship after their divorce was finalized in 1993.

“We took the time so that we could become best friends again,” he said. “Our families are blended. I love her husband ― he’s like a brother to me ― and I love the kids. It’s beautiful, but it takes work.”

Kravitz and Bonet have a 30-year-old daughter, actress Zoë Kravitz, together. Bonet and Momoa have two children, Lola, 12, and Nakoa-Wolf, 10.

The rock icon has previously discussed his love for his blended family. In 2013, Kravitz said he, Bonet, Momoa and their children were “one big happy family,” during an interview on Oprah’s “Master Class” on Own. 

“It’s beautiful and it just shows you what can be done,” he said at the time. 

In December, Momoa posted a photo on Instagram of himself with Kravitz sporting matching rings. The “Aquaman” actor shared at the time that he gifted Kravitz an “amazing bone skull ring” to match one he already owned. 

With files from People.

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By The Wall of Law July 21, 2019 Off

UK Treasury chief vows to quit if Boris Johnson becomes PM

LONDON — British Treasury chief Philip Hammond says he will quit if — as widely expected — Boris Johnson becomes prime minister this week.

Hammond said Sunday that Johnson’s vow to take the U.K. out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal is “not something that I could ever sign up to.”

He is the third minister within a week to quit or say they will resign in order to try to block a no-deal Brexit. Economists say leaving the EU without a deal would cause Britain economic turmoil.

Johnson is the strong favourite to win a two-person runoff to lead the Conservative Party and the country. The winner is being announced Tuesday, with the victor taking over from Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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Vatican experts examine bones in search for missing girl

VATICAN CITY — Forensic experts have begun studying two sets of bones at a Vatican City cemetery where a missing teenage girl’s family was tipped to look for her.

A Holy See spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said on Saturday that the analyses are being done at the Pontifical Teutonic College, where the bones were found under a stone slab last week.

The missing girl, Emanuela Orlandi, vanished in 1983 at age 15 after she left her family’s apartment in Vatican City for a music lesson in Rome.

Her family’ lawyer received an anonymous tip that Emanuela might be buried near the 19th century tombs of two German princesses in the Teutonic College cemetery.

The tombs turned out to be empty, but the bones were found during a search of adjoining areas.

The Associated Press



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By The Wall of Law July 20, 2019 Off