June 20, 2019 / 6:12 PM / 25 days ago

Factbox: The two Conservatives fighting to be next UK PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Former London mayor Boris Johnson will take on foreign minister Jeremy Hunt to become Britain’s next prime minister.

Conservative lawmakers have whittled down a field of candidates to Johnson and Hunt, and it will now be up to the party’s 160,000 members to choose who will replace Theresa May.

Here are some brief facts about the two candidates.

BORIS JOHNSON, 55

** Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the great grandson of a Turkish journalist who was briefly a minister in the defunct Ottoman empire, was born in New York.

** He was educated at the exclusive private school Eton College and Oxford University. There he was president of the Union debating society and a member of the exclusive Bullingdon dining club alongside former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

** His journalistic career included spells at the Times newspaper, where he was sacked for making up quotes, as the European Union correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, and as editor of weekly magazine the Spectator - a pillar of the British establishment - from 1999 to 2005.

** He was elected as the Member of Parliament for the wealthy southern town of Henley in June 2001. He became Conservative vice-chairman in 2003 and was appointed Conservative opposition spokesman for the Arts in April 2004. However he was sacked by then party leader Michael Howard for lying about newspaper reports that he was having an affair.

** In 2008 he was elected London mayor and won re-election in 2012, overseeing the London Olympic Games that year.

** He returned to parliament after being elected for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip in London. He became the face of the official campaign to leave the European Union ahead of the referendum in 2016. After Cameron resigned following the vote for Brexit, Johnson became foreign minister. He quit that post in July in protest at May’s handling of the EU divorce.

** Of his political ambitions he once said: “My chances of being prime minister are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” He is the bookmakers’ overwhelming favorite to win the leadership contest.

JEREMY HUNT, 52

** Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt was born in Surrey to the south of London, the son of a senior naval officer and later admiral. He was educated at the exclusive Charterhouse private school in Godalming where different generations of his family have lived for nearly 60 years.

** Hunt studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. He worked for a management consultancy firm before going to Japan for two years where he taught English and learned to speak fluent Japanese. On his return he set up an educational publishing business.

** He was elected to parliament in 2005 for the South West Surrey seat and has held a number of government roles since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, at first in a coalition. He was the culture minister who oversaw the initial proposed buyout of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp during which time he was accused of being too close to the media mogul.

** From 2012 to 2018, he was health minister, holding the role for longer than any other figure in British history. After Johnson’s resignation, he replaced him as foreign minister.

** His wife, Lucia, hails from China. During a trip to China in July last year, he mistakenly described her as being Japanese. He referred to the incident during a leadership debate when asked what was his greatest weakness, replying “Some might say as foreign secretary it’s getting my wife’s nationality wrong”.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison

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