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British prime ministerial contenders ready for debate

LONDON — The two contenders to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May will be squaring off in their only head-to-head debate in the campaign.

The television debate Tuesday between front-runner Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt comes after numerous events around the country in which the candidates took questions individually from Conservative Party members. They are voting to choose a new party leader who will automatically become prime minister.

Hunt’s supporters have expressed frustration at the reluctance of Johnson to take part in direct debate, and hope that this debate offers a chance to turn the contest around.

But it comes late in the campaign: Ballot papers have already gone out to the party’s estimated 180,000 members, and many people will already have voted. That means that the impact may be limited even if Hunt’s performance is strong.

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