Former Foreign Secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson was on Tuesday elected the leader of the ruling Conservative Party and the country’s next Prime Minister.
Johnson defeated Foreign Secretary Hunt by a margin of 92,153 votes to 46,656, announced Dame Cheryl Gillan, the co-chair of the party’s parliamentary group, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, near Parliament house. 87.4 per cent of the 159,320 party members voted.
In his victory speech, Johnson began by acknowledging his varying popularity in the party saying: “I know there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision, and there may even be some people here who still wonder what they have done.”
He said he had three priorities — to “deliver, unite and defeat”. The slogan, he said made the acronym ‘dud’ until “you added the final element, ‘energise’, which, in fact, made it ‘dude’.”
“I say to all the doubters — ‘Dude’ we are going to energise the country. We are going to get Brexit done on October 31 and to take advantages of all the opportunities it will bring in a new spirit of ‘can do’. We are once again going to believe ourselves and like a slumbering giant we are going to ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt,” he said.
“I will work flat-out from now on with my team that I will build,” he said. “The campaign is over and the work begins.”
Praising Hunt, Johnson said he had been a font of “excellent ideas” and joked that he’s planning to “steal them”.
He also congratulated Theresa May, whom he’s long been a critic of. “It was a privilege to serve in her Cabinet,” Johnson said. “Thank you, Theresa.” May, in turn, congratulated her successor, promising him her “full support from the backbenches”.
US President Donald Trump also tweeted his congratulations to Johnson, saying: “He will be great!”
EU Commission’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he was looking forward to working with Johnson “to facilitate the ratification of the withdrawal agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit”.
Johnson has previously said the agreement May reached with the EU was “dead”.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacted to the news of Johnson’s victory by tweeting he had “won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members”, but “hasn’t won the support of our country”.
“Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Trump. The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a general election,” Corbyn said.
Johnson will not take office formally until Wednesday afternoon. May will face her final Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons before tendering 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.