Faced with the task of uniting the party and country, as well as navigating the Brexit minefield, Boris Johnson, a former two-term London mayor, is likely to forego summer holidays.(AFP)
Faced with the task of uniting the party and country, as well as navigating the Brexit minefield, Boris Johnson, a former two-term London mayor, is likely to forego summer holidays.(AFP)

Borish Johnson chosen new UK leader, faces Brexit test

Boris Johnson, 55, a former journalist educated in Eton and Oxford, won the leadership contest against foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt
Hindustan Times, London | By Prasun Sonwalkar
UPDATED ON JUL 24, 2019 12:34 AM IST

Boris Johnson, one of the most known British politicians abroad, was on Tuesday elected leader of the ruling Conservative party and will become the next prime minister on Wednesday, taking on the challenging Brexit in-tray that consumed his predecessor, Theresa May.

Boris Johnson, 55, a former journalist educated in Eton and Oxford, won the leadership contest against foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who polled 92,152 of the 1.6 lakh votes from members of the party, which is leading a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party.

Theresa May will formally step down before Queen Elizabeth on Wednesday after attending her last Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons. Johnson will then be invited to Buckingham Palace and return to Downing Street as prime minister and address the nation.

 Watch | Boris Johnson wins race to 10 Downing Street, is new UK Prime Minister

The Tory government has a thin majority of two in the House of Commons, which may dwindle further if the party loses the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election in Wales on Thursday. It is one of the first tests Johnson will face as prime minister.

Anticipating Johnson’s election and taking over as the prime minister, ministers in the outgoing May government have symbolically resigned or announced they will resign as a sign of opposition to him, opening another divide within the fractious ruling party.

Faced with the task of uniting the party and country, as well as navigating the Brexit minefield, Johnson, a former two-term London mayor, is likely to forego summer holidays because the new deadline to leave the European Union is three months away, October 31.

Besides gaffes and errors in his career, Johnson has attracted renewed criticism over his promise to leave the EU on October 31, with or without an agreement. Senior Tories are grouping together to ensure that an economically crippling no-deal Brexit does not happen.

Every step of the Johnson government is likely to be closely watched, including his composition of the team of ministers: how many pro-Brexiteers and Remainers would be included, or not. Several ministers have announced they would not serve under Johnson.

However, Johnson, who was married to Indian-origin Marina Wheeler and has several links to India, is expected to bring back Priti Patel to the cabinet, and promote junior ministers Alok Sharma and Rishi Sunak, son-in-law of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy.

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