Johnson tops first-round vote for British PM
Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson topped the ballot by a landslide yesterday in a first-round vote for a leader to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May. In the ballot of Conservative MPs, former London mayor Johnson secured more than twice the number of votes won by his nearest challengers as three of the 10 candidates were eliminated from the race. Johnson secured 114 votes, way ahead of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on 43 and Environment Secretary Michael Gove with 37. Former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom (11), ex-immigration minister Mark Harper (10) and former pensions secretary Esther McVey (nine) failed to reach the 17 votes required to get through to round two. After few rounds of voting like it happened yesterday, the last pair standing will go up before 160,000 voting Conservative Party members across the country. The winner will become new party leader and automatically replace May as premier, most likely at the end of July.
Sister of Saudi crown prince faces Paris trial: legal source
The sister of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to be put on trial in Paris next month for allegedly ordering her bodyguard to beat up a workman in the French capital, a legal source told AFP on Wednesday. The case against Princess Hassa bint Salman stems from an alleged assault in her apartment on the ultra-expensive Avenue Foch in west Paris in September 2016. The trial is due to be judged on July 9, the source said. The alleged victim has said he was hired to carry out refurbishment work at Princess Hassa’s apartment and that she became angry after he took a photograph, accusing him of wanting to sell it to the media. He alleges the princess, said to be in her 40s, then ordered the bodyguard to beat him up. The workman says he was punched in the face, his hands were tied and he was forced to kiss the princess’s feet during an hours-long ordeal.
Winds, rain batter western India as cyclone veers away
High winds and heavy rains pounded western India yesterday as a major cyclone expected to hit the coast veered away instead into the Arabian Sea. Vayu, classified as a very severe cyclonic storm, moved north-northwestwards in the night over the Arabian Sea, and was around 110 kilometres (70 miles) from the coast of Gujarat state. It was “very likely” to keep moving in the same direction, but still skirt the coast, packing winds of 135-145 kilometres per hour and gusts of 160 kilometres per hour, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. On Wednesday, forecasters had been bracing for the system to hit Gujarat with full force winds equivalent to a category one or two hurricane. Authorities in Gujarat evacuated more than 285,000 people as a precaution.
US open to dialogue with India after trade snub
The United States is open to dialogue with India after taking away its preferential trading status, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday as he prepares to travel to New Delhi. India has been the single biggest beneficiary of that decades-old US program, which allowed it to export $5.7 billion worth of goods, duty-free, to the US in 2017, according to figures from the US Congress. President Donald Trump removed New Delhi from the system in early June, even as Washington tries to boost ties with India as a counterweight to China and despite Trump’s stated good relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pompeo will visit India as part of a tour of Asia from June 24-30.