- Boris Johnson will be the United Kingdom’s next prime minister after beating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
- The former foreign secretary comfortably defeated Hunt in the contest among Conservative Party members to replace Theresa May.
- Johnson is expected to make a victory speech in central London on Tuesday afternoon.
- He will also appoint key members of a new-look Cabinet on Tuesday.
- Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to guide Britain out of the European Union by October 31 sets him on a collision course with Parliament, which has repeatedly voted against a no-deal Brexit.
LONDON – Boris Johnson will become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom after comfortably beating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the race to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader.
Johnson won 92,153 votes to 46,656 for Hunt on a turnout of 87.4%.
Johnson, who was the overwhelming favourite to win the contest, is now expected to unveil an ambitious domestic policy agenda during a victory speech in central London on Tuesday afternoon.
The former foreign secretary will also be under pressure to address pressing questions about who will be in his Cabinet, how he will resolve the Brexit crisis, and how he might govern with a wafer-thin House of Commons majority.
Voting among the 165,000-strong Conservative membership closed at 5 p.m. BST on Monday.
“Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers’ best friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit,” he said on Twitter.
“But he hasn’t won the support of our country.
“Johnson’s No Deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.
“The people of our country should decide who becomes Prime Minister in a General Election.”
Labour MP Jo Stevens, a supporter of the Best for Britain anti-Brexit group, said Johnson would be “the shortest serving Prime Minister in this country’s history.”
She said: “This is a dark day. As Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson was a specialist in failure, only marginally less incompetent than Chris Grayling.
“Whoever holds the keys to Number 10, the arithmetic in Parliament remains the same. Parliament is in deadlock and it’s clear the only way out of this is going back to the people.”
“If Boris Johnson continues to threaten a disastrous no-deal Brexit, he’ll end up being the shortest serving Prime Minister in this country’s history.”
Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, said he was looking forward to working “constructively” with the new UK prime minister.
We look forward to working constructively w/ PM @BorisJohnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit. We are ready also to rework the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO guidelines.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) July 23, 2019
The result, announced by the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee of MPs, marks the end of a month-long battle between Johnson and Hunt that was at times bruising for the incoming prime minister and included 16 hustings, TV interviews, and campaign visits.
Speaking ahead of Johnson’s expected victory, Michael Fallon, a leading supporter who is tipped for a Cabinet job, said “our MPs across the Conservative Party will be willing the prime minister on.”
He added: “They will be ready now to unite behind him in this task, which of course is challenging: to get Brexit done. But we need to do that and Boris Johnson will give us that fresh start.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, another leading supporter, said: “I think Boris will be good for the country because he’ll deliver on his promise to leave EU and he’ll do that by 31 October.”
“He’ll be good for the Conservative Party as he has the electoral stardust that makes him attractive and a unifying figure across the country.”
Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31, as well as his central role in the Leave campaign, ultimately gave him the edge over Hunt in a contest that was dominated by Brexit.
His speech Tuesday afternoon is expected to look beyond Brexit and outline a domestic policy agenda involving social care, school funding, and boosting regional business.
And while he is expected to emphasise the need for unity and the need to bring the Conservative Party back together, he faces a significant threat from a handful of his colleagues who are determined to stop him from forcing a no-deal Brexit.
Perhaps Johnson’s biggest problem is the wafer-thin parliamentary majority he will inherit.
If, as expected, the Conservatives lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election to the Liberal Democrats on August 1, he will be governing with a working majority of just one.
The Conservative majority was reduced this week when Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, was charged with three counts of sexual assault against two women.
This will make the prospect of trying to push through highly contentious Brexit legislation through Parliament highly difficult.
The Tory grandees Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve have even said they would vote with the opposition Labour Party in a vote of no confidence against the prime minister, which – if successful – would collapse the government and precipitate a general election.
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