Tuesday, July 23, 2019 4:33 pm
British leader-in-waiting Boris Johnson vowed on Tuesday to “get Brexit done” after the ruling Conservatives chose him in a run-off to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May.
Johnson won about two-thirds of the votes by 160,000 Conservative party members in a contest with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, putting him one day away from becoming Britain’s new leader.
Addressing hundreds of party members – including his father, sister, and brother – Johnson said he wanted to unite Britain and “get Brexit done” by the delayed EU exit date of Oct. 31, with or without a deal.
In brief remarks after the ballot result, he praised May for her “extraordinary service” and for her “passion and determination” in politics.
“We’re going to get Brexit done … in a new spirit of can-do,” Johnson said in a prepared victory speech.
“And like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity,” he said.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour party, called for a general election, saying Johnson was chosen via an “unrepresentative” ballot.
“Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS (national health service) being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump,” Corbyn tweeted.
EU officials congratulated Johnson but wasted no time in signaling the bloc won’t budge on the divorce bill it negotiated with Britain.
“We look forward to working constructively (with Johnson) when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit,” the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, wrote on Twitter.
Barnier said that Brussels was, however, ready to rework the political declaration on future relations that accompanied the withdrawal agreement.
Incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Johnson and also said she was looking forward to having a good working relationship with Johnson.
Meanwhile, Johnson has said that a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. would be an early priority for him as prime minister.
May urged him to “work together to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK.”
She urged him to ensure the Conservatives “keep Jeremy Corbyn out of government.”
Anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage, who leads the rising Brexit Party, asked if Johnson would “have the courage to deliver” on his “do or die” promise to leave the EU by Oct. 31.
“It is do or die, not just for Brexit, but for the future of the Conservative party,” Farage tweeted.
May resigned after she failed to persuade lawmakers to back the Brexit deal she had agreed with Brussels.
Johnson is expected to make sweeping changes to her cabinet.
Hunt, who is not expected to stay in the cabinet, said Johnson would be “a great PM for our country at this critical moment!”
Junior education minister Anne Milton resigned on Tuesday, citing concerns about a potential no-deal Brexit.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary
Rory Stewart and junior foreign office minister Alan Duncan have already said they would not serve in a Johnson-led government. (dpa/NAN)