Boris Johnson is a leading candidate in the Conservative Party leadership campaign to be the next British Prime Minister.
British Conservative party lawmaker Boris Johnson leaves a TV station after giving an interview in London, June 14, 2019.

LONDON - Candidates seeking to become Britain's next prime minister are warning that the Conservative Party needs a real contest, rather than a coronation for front-runner Boris Johnson.

Johnson, a former foreign secretary, has a big lead after the first round of voting by Tory lawmakers. On Sunday he received the backing of Esther McVey, one of the candidates eliminated from the race last week.

Six contenders remain, with Johnson by far the favorite. Lawmakers are set to narrow the field this week in a series of elimination votes, with the final two names put to a vote of Conservative members nationwide.

But some have suggested that stage could be skipped if Johnson is too far ahead.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is in fifth place, says it is important to have “a robust final round.”