Deal or no deal? Rivals for next British PM split on Brexit

Robin MILLARD
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Among the possible contenders to replace Theresa May as party leader are Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Matt Hancock

Among the possible contenders to replace Theresa May as party leader are Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Matt Hancock (AFP Photo/STF)

London (AFP) - The race to replace Theresa May as British prime minister in a contest due to end in July has 11 declared contenders.

May is due to step down as Conservative Party leader on Friday, formally triggering the leadership battle.

Here are the hopefuls sorted by their Brexit strategies, with Britain due to leave the EU on October 31:

- Actively seeking no-deal -

-- ANDREA LEADSOM

Leadsom quit as leader of the House of Commons on May 22, triggering the prime minister's downfall the next day.

She wants a managed no-deal exit with no deadline extensions.

The 56-year-old got down to the final two in the 2016 leadership race, but pulled out.

She is considered the third favourite in the contest to succeed May.

-- ESTHER McVEY

The 51-year-old Brexit supporter and former television presenter resigned as work and pensions secretary last year over Brexit compromises. A blue-collar Conservative, she wants a clean break with Brussels.

- Open to no-deal in October -

-- BORIS JOHNSON

The former foreign secretary, 54, says he would get Britain out of the European Union, "deal or no deal".

A figurehead in the 2016 Brexit campaign, he was May's foreign secretary until he resigned over her Brexit strategy.

Charismatic and popular with grassroots Conservatives, he is seen as the favourite in the race.

-- DOMINIC RAAB

An ardent eurosceptic with a black belt in karate, the 45-year-old former Brexit minister resigned in protest at the Brexit deal struck with the EU by May.

He says Britain should be ready to walk away from the EU without an agreement while still trying to negotiate a better deal than the one May signed.

-- SAJID JAVID

A former investment banker and the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, Javid, 49, wants to be the face of a modern, multicultural and meritocratic Britain.

An economic liberal, Javid voted for Britain to stay in the EU in 2016 but has since become an advocate of Brexit.

Wants to leave on October 31, preferably with a deal but would prefer no deal over no Brexit.

- No to no-deal in October -

-- MICHAEL GOVE

The cerebral 51-year-old is among the most ardent eurosceptics left in May's government but is seen as a possible unifying figure between the two wings of the party.

Considered the second favourite, he is said to be prepared to delay Brexit until the end of next year rather than leave without a deal on October 31.

-- JEREMY HUNT

The foreign secretary supported remaining in the EU but has switched since then.

The former businessman is a resilient politician, having headed the National Health Service for six years during a funding crisis.

The 52-year-old says he will push hard for a new deal with Brussels without taking the possibility of a no-deal outcome off the table.

-- MARK HARPER

A former chief whip charged with enforcing party discipline, Harper, 49, did not serve under May and says he is therefore untainted by association.

He says an extension would be needed beyond October 31 to secure a deal but he would be prepared to leave without one rather than remain.

- Against no-deal -

-- RORY STEWART

The international development secretary, 46, is a former Foreign Office official who served in the coalition administration in Iraq following the US-led invasion in 2003. Says no-deal policy would be "damaging".

-- MATT HANCOCK

The 40-year-old health secretary is one of the party's rising stars, a moderate widely seen as competent at his job and skilful with the media.

He opposed Brexit during the 2016 referendum before switching sides.

- Second referendum -

-- SAM GYIMAH

The 42-year-old quit as universities minister in November in order to endorse a second referendum on Brexit.

Entering the race to broaden its field of Brexit options, he wants a three-way referendum: deal, no deal or remain. He wants to stop no-deal and would vote remain.