Boris Johnson elected new Prime Minister
Boris Johnson will become Britain’s next prime minister after winning a convincing victory over Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative party leadership race. The former mayor of London, who has long cherished an ambition to lead his country, won 66% of the votes – 92,153, to Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4% among 159,320 party members. In a characteristically lighthearted acceptance speech, Johnson conceded that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”.
He claimed the Tory party had historically demonstrated it could “manage the jostling instincts in the human heart” – such as those of owning a home and helping the poorest in society.
“Today, at this pivotal moment in our history, we again have to reconcile two noble sets of instincts – between the deep desire for friendship and free trade and mutual support and security and defence between Britain and our European partners; and the simultaneous desire, equally heartfelt, for democratic self-government in this country.” He reminded his audience of ministers and party staff of his campaign mantra: “Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.” Saying “some wag” had pointed out that this spelled “dud”, he joked that the final e – “E for energise” – had been left out. “I say to all the doubters: dude, we are going to energise the country!”
And Johnson said he would “get Brexit done by 31 October” with a “new spirit of can-do”.
“We are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt and negativity.”
The result of the contest was announced by the joint chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, Cheryl Gillam. Her colleague, Charles Walker, first urged MPs to be “kinder” to the new leader than they had been to Theresa May.
Brandon Lewis, the Conservative party chair, introduced the slick event at a conference centre in Westminster, saying the race had shown that his party was fundamentally united. Johnson’s victory was almost immediately welcomed by Donald Trump, who tweeted: “He will be great!” Johnson will address Tory MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee on Tuesday afternoon, as well as thanking party staff and his own campaign team.
He will not take office formally until Wednesday afternoon. May will face her final prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons before tendering her resignation to the Queen.Johnson will then go to Buckingham Palace himself for his appointment to be confirmed – before being driven to Downing Street to give a speech in front of the black door of No 10.He takes charge at a perilous political moment. The Conservatives’ wafer-thin parliamentary working majority is expected to be eroded further next week – to just two – if the Liberal Democrats win the Brecon and Radnorshire byelection.
Johnson has faced a furious internal revolt even before arriving in Downing Street, with several key cabinet ministers, including the chancellor, Philip Hammond, saying they will resign rather than serve under him.They have been alarmed by Johnson’s insistence that he is willing to countenance leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October, rather than postpone Brexit once again – even if that meant proroguing parliament.Despite painstaking media management, his campaign has been dogged by a series of controversies, including the revelation that police had been called to a noisy argument at the home he shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds.