Boris Johnson chosen to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister

Johnson was the favorite to replace May when she announced her resignation.

July 23, 2019, 7:53 AM

LONDON -- Boris Johnson has been chosen as the new leader of the Conservative Party and will take over as prime minister from Theresa May when she resigns on Wednesday.

Johnson was always the favorite to win the race, beating his rival Jeremy Hunt.

As the Conservative Party remains the largest party in the House of Commons, Johnson will become prime minister without having been elected by the general public.

In his opening speech as leader of the Conservative Party, he thanked party members for the “extraordinary honor and privilege” they had bestowed upon him.

“We conservatives have had the best insights into human nature,” Johnson said.

In reference to Brexit, Johnson spoke of the “deep and heartfelt desire for democratic self-government in this country” and that his goals were to “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat [the leader of the Labor Party] Jeremy Corbyn.”

“That is what we are going to do,” he said. “We are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take this forward. The campaign is over and the work begins.”

President Trump, who has spoken of his admiration of Johnson in the past, congratulated the new Conservative Party leader on Twitter.

May will take questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday before meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation.

In the end, Brexit proved to be May’s downfall. The Brexit deal she spent the best part of two years negotiating with EU leaders was voted down three times in the Houses of Parliament, forcing her to request an extension until October.

The delays proved to be deeply unpopular with Brexit-supporting members of her own party.

PHOTO: Conservative MP and leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives at his campaign headquarters in central London on July 23, 2019.
Conservative MP and leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives at his campaign headquarters in central London on July 23, 2019.
Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

May announced her resignation on May 24, triggering the Conservative Party election from which Johnson, one of her biggest critics, emerged victorious.

“It is a matter of deep regret that I have not been able to deliver Brexit," May said this spring. "My successor will have to find a consensus. Consensus will only be possible if those on both sides of the debate compromise."

Johnson has campaigned on the basis that he will find a better deal with the EU between now and the Oct. 31 deadline. He has repeatedly said that if they cannot agree to a deal, he will lead the U.K. out of the EU with a "no-deal" Brexit, a prospect critics say will be hugely damaging to the economy.

But reports in the British media are already suggesting that Johnson’s command will get off to a turbulent start.

Phillip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer under May, has already indicated he could vote to collapse a government in the event of Johnson pursuing a “no deal” Brexit, according to The Guardian.

Johnson will become the U.K.’s third prime minister since the historic Brexit referendum of 2016, which saw the country vote by a margin of 52-48 to leave the EU.

Related Topics