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Boris Johnson to become next UK Prime Minister

Newly elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his victory speech, 23 July 2019
Newly elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his victory speech, 23 July 2019 REUTERS/Toby Melville

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson has been announced as the next UK prime minister, garnering double the amount of votes of rival Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative leadership contest.

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Johnson reminded the Tory party gathered at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London of his campaign mantra: “Deliver Brexit, unite the country, and defeat [opposition leader] Jeremy Corbyn."

“We know that we can do it and that the people of this country are trusting in us, and we know we will do it,” he said, referring to Brexit.

Johnson won 92,153 votes to Foreign Secretary Hunt's 46,656, with turnout at 87.4% among the 159,320 Tory members.

Johnson thanked his team, but also his arch-rival Hunt.

“You’ve been friendly and good-natured, you've been a font of excellent ideas, all of which I intend to steal forthwith,” he joked.

The stock market steeled itself for the announcement of the hardline Brexiteer's victory, with the pound taking a downturn early Tuesday.

Deal or no-deal

The incoming head of the European Comission Ursula Von de Leyen and the French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at a meeting in Paris, both congratulated Johnson on his victory, but warned there would be difficult and challenging times ahead. 

Johnson has repeatedly said he would pull Britain out of the European Union by the 31 October deadline with or without a deal, although his rhetoric has leaned towards no deal.

Hunt had been more moderate in his Brexit policy, calling for a return to the bargaining table.

Both have agreed, though, that the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’, or hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, would need to be either renegotiated or scrapped immediately.

Protesters outside the Conservative party headquarters in London shouted, “We demand the people’s vote,” as members entered the building.

European Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans said that a no-deal Brexit would be a “tragedy.”

"Boris Johnson took his time to decide whether he was on the one side or the other side of the argument," Timmermans told a news conference before the announcement.

"He took a long time deciding ... and now his position is clear," he added.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May will hold one last Questions session in Parliament on Wednesday before meeting the Queen of England to officially resign.

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