Johnson promises ‘can do spirit’ to deliver Brexit after Tory leadership victory

Boris Johnson will become the UK’s next prime minister after securing a landslide victory in the Tory leadership contest.

The new Conservative Party leader used his victory speech to promise that he would meet the October 31 Brexit deadline with a “new spirit of can do”, releasing the country’s “guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity”.

Mr Johnson secured more than two-thirds of the votes in the contest, comfortably defeating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He said it was an “extraordinary honour and privilege” and insisted that “we are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward”.

At the leadership announcement event in central London, Mr Johnson said: “We are going to get Brexit done on October 31, we are going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can do.

“And 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.”

Improved education, infrastructure, more police and full-fibre broadband are among the ways Mr Johnson said this would be achieved.

But Mr Johnson’s main task will be fulfilling his “do or die” promise to deliver Brexit on October 31, which he has said he will do with or without a deal.

Theresa May, who will resign as Prime Minister tomorrow, offered her congratulations but stressed that Mr Johnson should work “to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK”, a clear warning against a no-deal departure.

She promised Mr Johnson “my full support from the back benches”.

US President Donald Trump, who repeatedly praised Mr Johnson even while visiting Mrs May, said he would be a “great” prime minister.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Brussels looked forward to working with the new prime minister on ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement – the deal which Mr Johnson has already declared dead.

Mr Barnier said the EU was ready to “rework” the Political Declaration on the future relationship.

Mr Johnson will be appointed as prime minister on Wednesday by the Queen after Mrs May formally resigns from the office.

He secured 92,153 votes – 66.4% – to defeat Mr Hunt in the leadership ballot.

Conservative leadership election
(PA Graphics)

Despite the resounding victory, Mr Johnson’s share of the vote was slightly lower than that achieved by David Cameron in the 2005 Conservative leadership election, when he took 67.6%.

Mr Johnson faces a daunting in-tray at Number 10, not only the tight Brexit deadline but also the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, where tensions have been heightened following Iran’s seizure of the British-registered Stena Impero tanker.

The challenge facing Mr Johnson is made even more difficult by a wafer-thin Tory-DUP majority of two in the Commons, with the prospect of it being reduced to just one if the Conservatives fail to win the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on August 1.

Tory leadership race
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson and sister Rachel Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London awaiting the leadership result

The incoming premier has been left in no doubt about the opposition he will face from his own benches if he attempts to force through a no-deal Brexit.

Sir Alan Duncan quit as a Foreign Office minister on Monday and Anne Milton as education minister on Tuesday, rather than serve under Mr Johnson.

Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart are expected to join them on the backbenches after the leadership change.

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' friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit.

But he hasn't won the support of our country.

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 23, 2019

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged Mr Johnson to  call a general election.

He said: “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’ friend, and pushing for a damaging no-deal Brexit. But he hasn’t won the support of our country.”

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