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Boris blusters AGAIN over whether he took cocaine 30 years ago

Boris Johnson blustered again today as he was grilled over taking cocaine – dismissing it as a ‘single inconclusive event’ more than 30 years ago.

The Tory leadership favourite dodged as he was pushed over his previous use of the Class A drug.  

Giving his first broadcast interview since the campaign began, Mr Johnson described the incident as ‘a single inconclusive event that took place when I was a teenager and which I have extensively described’.

Asked if he had used the drug since then, he said bluntly: ‘No.’ 

Mr Johnson also risked softening his tough line on Brexit – believed to be one of the main reason why he has secured such a big advantage in the leadership race.

He repeated his commitment to taking the UK out of the EU by the end of October, but added that it would be ‘bizarre’ to say anything else ‘at this stage’. 

Boris Johnson (pictured leaving his London home today) is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Theresa May

Mr Johnson finally surfaced on the airwaves today by speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s World at One.  

All the candidates have been facing tough questions about misdemeanours and use of drugs since Michael Gove admitted to cocaine use two decades ago – causing huge damage to his campaign.

Aid Secretary Rory Stewart upped the ante by confessing that he had taken opium in Afghanistan.

Mr Johnson confessed to having used cocaine during an interview with British GQ magazine in 2007, in which he said it ‘achieved no pharmacological, psychotropical or any other effect on me whatsoever’.

During an appearance on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You two years earlier he suggested the substance might in fact have been icing sugar. 

Aid Secretary Rory Stewart (pictured on the phone in London today) has confessed that he took opium in Afghanistan

Aid Secretary Rory Stewart (pictured on the phone in London today) has confessed that he took opium in Afghanistan

But he was reluctant to elaborate on the incident when questioned during his campaign launch earlier this week.

He said: ‘I think the canonical account of this event when I was 19 has appeared many, many times.

‘I think what most people in this country want us to really focus on in this campaign, if I may say so, is what we can do for them and what our plans are for this great country of ours.’ 

Pressed on his promise to force Brexit by the end of October whether or not there has been a deal with the EU, Mr Johnson insisted that was still the case. 

However, he appeared to hint at wriggle room by saying that was the position ‘at this stage’.

‘We have to get out by October 31 and I think it would be absolutely bizarre to signal at this stage that the UK Government was willing once again to run up the white flag and delay yet again,’ he said.

Hancock quits leader battle as Boris surges 

Tory leadership manoeuvring hit fever pitch today after Matt Hancock pulled out of the leadership contest – admitting he cannot beat runaway favourite Boris Johnson. 

The Health Secretary sparked a feeding frenzy among his rivals by dramatically quitting, with speculation that his 20 votes could end up going to Jeremy Hunt or Sajid Javid. 

‘I ran as the candidate of the future, but the party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson trounced the field in the first round of the contest yesterday, romping home with 114 votes from MPs.

The massive haul – more than the next three candidates put together – means he is virtually guaranteed a spot in the final two, who will go to a ballot of party members.

But the other hopefuls are still fighting over votes to sort out who should be Mr Johnson’s opponent in the run-off – and position themselves to get a big job in the next Cabinet. Mr Hunt sought to burnish his credentials today by launching an extraordinary broadside at Mr Johnson for ‘hiding’, taunting him that his hero Churchill would be ‘braver’.

‘My commitment is to honour the will of the people and get this country out on October 31.’

Tory leadership manoeuvring hit fever pitch today after Matt Hancock pulled out of the leadership contest – admitting he cannot beat runaway favourite Mr Johnson. 

The Health Secretary sparked a feeding frenzy among his rivals by dramatically quitting, with speculation that his 20 votes could end up going to Jeremy Hunt or Sajid Javid. 

‘I ran as the candidate of the future, but the party is understandably looking for a candidate for the unique circumstances we face right now,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson trounced the field in the first round of the contest yesterday, romping home with 114 votes from MPs.

The massive haul – more than the next three candidates put together – means he is virtually guaranteed a spot in the final two, who will go to a ballot of party members.

But the other hopefuls are still fighting over votes to sort out who should be Mr Johnson’s opponent in the run-off – and position themselves to get a big job in the next Cabinet. Mr Hunt sought to burnish his credentials today by launching an extraordinary broadside at Mr Johnson for ‘hiding’, taunting him that his hero Churchill would be ‘braver’.

The six still standing have been desperately wooing the trio of candidates who were eliminated in the first ballot, with rumours that plum posts are being promised. 

Andrea Leadsom’s 11 votes could end up with Mr Javid or Mr Johnson, while Esther McVey is widely expected to endorse Mr Johnson and urge her nine backers to follow suit. Mark Harper’s tally of 10 looks set to fragment across the campaigns.

Mr Hancock refused to say today who he would endorse for PM, saying he wanted to push the values of ‘free enterprise, and an open, aspirational, free society’. 

‘I will talk to all the other candidates about how these values can be best taken forward,’ he added. He met Mr Javid privately last night, but many of the MPs who voted for him are likely to line up behind Mr Hunt as the best chance of avoiding a hardline Brexit policy.

Some supporters of Home Secretary Mr Javid, who came fifth, are urging him to do a deal with Mr Johnson to become Chancellor. 

However, one senior MP in Mr Javid’s camp dismissed the idea – telling MailOnline that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt taking on Mr Johnson would be a ‘quasi University Challenge final’. 

Mr Hunt was educated at Charterhouse and Magdalen colllege, Oxford, while Mr Johnson went to Eton and Balliol, Oxford. 

What happens next? ‘Stop Boris’ Tory leadership hopefuls now locked in a battle for second place to make it onto the final ballot paper

The field of Tory leadership challengers has been whittled down to six after three candidates were ousted at the first ballot of MPs on Thursday and Matt Hancock opted to withdraw on Friday.

Those still standing now have three days in which to persuade more of their Conservative colleagues to back their bids before the second round of voting takes place on Tuesday.

At this point the race is entirely about momentum. Boris Johnson has cemented his status as the prohibitive favourite after he secured 114 votes – enough to effectively guarantee he is one of the final two candidates.

But for the remaining five candidates, it is all still to play for.

Four Tory leadership challengers are now out of the race for Number 10. Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Mark Harper were eliminated in the first round of voting while Matt Hancock has chosen to withdraw from the race

Four Tory leadership challengers are now out of the race for Number 10. Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Mark Harper were eliminated in the first round of voting while Matt Hancock has chosen to withdraw from the race

What happens next Tuesday?

Tory MPs will vote for the second time in what is likely to be a make or break moment in the race to succeed Theresa May.

There will be six candidates to choose from but only Mr Johnson will have any certainty about making it to the next stage.

Anyone not named Mr Johnson will now have the same goal: To finish in second place and make it onto the final ballot paper alongside Mr Johnson.

Jeremy Hunt came second in Thursday’s vote with the support of 43 of his colleagues.

But none of the other remaining candidates are too far behind and all of them will be hopeful of hoovering up at least some of the MPs who backed the four candidates who are no longer in the race.

They will need at least 33 votes to progress to the third vote but if all of the six candidates manage to get past that threshold, whoever has the fewest votes will be eliminated.  

The Foreign Secretary came second in the first round of voting and will now be hoping to persuade Tory MPs that he is the candidate capable of challenging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary came second in the first round of voting and will now be hoping to persuade Tory MPs that he is the candidate capable of challenging Boris Johnson

What happens after the second round of voting on Tuesday? 

It is the job of Tory MPs to cut the list of candidates to two and after Tuesday’s vote there will then follow further ballots on Wednesday and, if necessary, on Thursday, until the chosen pair remain.

The number of further ballots needed will be determined by whether trailing candidates opt to withdraw from the contest. 

What happens once there are two candidates left? 

Conservative Party members will be asked to choose who they want to be their next leader. 

The final two will have to face 16 leadership hustings events across the nation with the first due to be held in Birmingham on June 22 and the last one taking place in London in the week starting July 15.

Ballot papers are expected to sent out to members between July 6-8. 

The overall winner of the contest is due to be announced in the week of July 22.  

Who could the MPs who supported the four eliminated candidates now back?

Dominic Raab, who finished fourth with 27 votes, will be hopeful of securing the support of many of the MPs who backed Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom.

Both have advocated a similarly hardline approach to Brexit as Mr Raab but Mr Johnson will also have his eye on winning over a lot of their backers with his own pledge to deliver Brexit on October 31.

The 10 MPs who backed Mark Harper, a candidate with a softer approach to Brexit, will be targeted by the likes of Mr Hunt and Sajid Javid. 

Mr Javid will also be hopeful of securing the support of the 20 MPs who backed Mr Hancock.  

Boris Johnson is now the prohibitive favourite to succeed Theresa May after securing the support of 114 Tory MPs in the first round of voting

Boris Johnson is now the prohibitive favourite to succeed Theresa May after securing the support of 114 Tory MPs in the first round of voting

So does Boris have it sewn up?

Previous Tory leadership contests have shown that the person who leads the race at the start of the process does not always finish in first.

Leadership campaigns are also volatile and it is distinctly possible that an unforeseen event in the coming weeks could radically shake up the battle for Number 10.

Mr Johnson is in pole position but there is still plenty of time for that to change. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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