Boris Johnson was elected leader of the British Conservative Party and became the seventy-seventh Prime Minister of the UK on Tuesday. The former Mayor of London was a clear favourite from the outset and beat rival, former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, by 92,153 votes to 46,656 – an overwhelming 66% of the vote.
In his acceptance speech, Johnson reiterated his campaign mantra: “Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.” He thanked his predecessor, Theresa May and said he wasn’t daunted by the challenge of delivering Brexit. Johnson has also promised an extensive list of domestic reforms including reform of the UK’s social care system, 20,000 additional police officers as well as new rules and additional capital to equalise school funding.
Johnson faced internal revolt even before entering Downing Street over his refusal to rule out no deal, with the likes of Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart announcing their resignation before Johnson took over the reins of power. Wednesday witnessed one of the most radical cabinet overhauls in history as Johnson appointed leading Brexiteers to his new cabinet, including Dominic Raab as foreign secretary and Priti Patel returning to government as home secretary.
The month-long leadership campaign was dominated by arguments over Brexit with Mr Johnson determined to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal. An ardent Brexit backer, he has pledged to strike a “new” and “better deal” to maximise the opportunities of Brexit and to ditch the “anti-democratic” Irish backstop plan. Following Johnson’s election, the EU Commission’s Chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he was looking forward to working with Mr Johnson “to facilitate the ratification of the withdrawal agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit”. However, EU leaders – including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – have again rejected any reopening of the agreement including the ‘backstop’ arrangement.