14:08 GMT +316 December 2019
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    British Conservative Party Member of Parliament Boris Johnson speaks at a fringe event during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.

    Boris Johnson Distrusted Within Own Party, But Very Popular Among Grass-Roots Conservatives - Prof.

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    Despite criticism from rivals and the Labour opposition, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexit campaigner, has secured the most support in the first round of voting by Conservative lawmakers in the Tory leadership contest, gaining 114 votes.

    Mark Garnett, a politics professor at Lancaster University and author of the book "From Anger to Apathy: The British Experience", has commented on the results of the first round of the race to replace Theresa May as the Conservative Party leader and UK PM.

    Sputnik: What do you make of the results of the first ballot of Tory MPs, following a week of leadership pitches?

    Mark Garnett: I expected Johnson to receive more than 114 votes. He is such a divisive figure that he is unlikely to be the second choice for many Conservative MPs. As a result, I think that at least 4 candidates still stand a chance: Johnson, Hunt, Javid and Raab. I exclude Gove from this list because the campaign has not gone well for him and people who want to stop Johnson will probably look elsewhere for their candidate in the next round.

    The three candidates who were directly eliminated are the ones most people expected to fare badly. I won't be surprised if at least one other candidate withdraws before the next ballot.

    Sputnik: Anti-Johnson rhetoric has been widespread among those entering the contest. Do they have an actual agenda? What can they offer to the public if elected?

    Mark Garnett: None of the candidates, including Johnson himself, have offered persuasive let alone convincing ideas regarding Brexit. They have tried to outline policies on other issues, but the only one which has attracted much attention is Johnson's promise of tax cuts for people who are already well-off, and this has attracted heavy criticism.

    Sputnik: Why do you think Johnson is facing such a united slamming "front"?

    Mark Garnett: Johnson is widely distrusted within his own party, and although he is very popular among grass-roots Conservatives, he is very strongly disliked by supporters of other parties. So while some Conservatives regard him as the last chance for their party to win the next election, others think that he will condemn the party to a damaging defeat. In other words, his opponents have both personal and political reasons for wanting to stop him.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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