BREAKING News Politics

The Conservative Party’s New Leader: Boris Johnson

Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Lowri Pitcher

After weeks of campaigning, the 160,000 or so Conservative members have voted for Boris Johnson to become the Leader of the Conservative Party, and soon, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Despite the results being announced today, Tuesday 23 July, Boris Johnson’s role will not commence until Wednesday 24 July.  On Wednesday, after finishing her last Prime Minister’s Questions session, Theresa May will visit the Queen to resign. She will then suggest to the Queen that Boris Johnson should succeed her; Her Majesty will then request that Boris Johnson forms a government in her name and thus his role of Prime Minister will commence.

The results in full:

Total number of eligible voters: 159,000

Turnout: 87.4%

Jeremy Hunt: 46,565

Boris Johnson: 92,153

Rejected ballots: 509

Victory Speech 

Moments after the results were announced, Boris Johnson gave a brief victory speech during which he said that his appointment is an “extraordinary honour and privilege.” 

He paid tribute to Theresa May for her extraordinary service to the party and country.   

In a typically jovial manner, he set out some of his main priorities as leader: deliver Brexit, unite the country, defeat Jeremy Corbyn and energise the country; to which he relayed his fondness of its acronym, DUDE.  

Speaking in a characteristically metaphorical tone, he stressed the importance of the UK having a “can-do” approach and that we will “rise up and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt,” by improving education, improving infrastructure, increasing the number of police and rolling out full fibre broadband. 

Having thanked the membership for their confidence in him, he committed to working “flat out” and concluded that for now, “the campaign is over, and the work begins.” 

Who is Boris Johnson?

Name: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

Age: 55, Born 19 June 1964

University: Read Classics at Oxford University

Leave/Remainer: Leave

Early Career

  • Graduate Trainee at The Times
  • Worked at the Daily Telegraph
  • The Daily Telegraph: based in Brussels reported on the European Commission
  • Daily Telegraph assistant editor and chief political columnist
  • The Spectator columnist
  • GQ Columnist
  • Editor of the Spectator

Parliamentary Career

  • 2001 Won the parliamentary seat for Henley, a Conservative safe-seat in Oxfordshire.
  • 2005 Shadow Higher education minister
  • 2008 London Mayor
  • 2012 Re-elected Mayor of London
  • 2015 MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip
  • 2016 – 2018 Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Response

In response to the results, James Wallice, President of Cardiff University’s Conservative Society said that “Boris is a character, and no doubt his term as Prime Minister will reflect that.”  In an era where politicians’ personalities are paramount to their public perception, Boris Johnson will very likely draw headlines for both his politics and private life.

“Boris is a character, and no doubt his term as Prime Minister will reflect that.”

Priorities

Wallice believes that “It’s absolutely vital the Conservative Party now unites behind the Prime Minister. He’s received a democratic mandate from the membership to lead our Party and the country.

“In the current climate, the forefront of the Prime Minister’s agenda should be to stabilise and resolve the ongoing situation with Iran with the prospect of retaining our assets. Now, more than ever, it’s vital Britain stands shoulder to shoulder both with our allies in Europe and across the Atlantic.”

He added, “Domestically, the Prime Minister needs to focus on turbocharging the economy in order to prepare us for a Post-Brexit climate. This means investing in start-up businesses by backing young entrepreneurs and those who take chances and create jobs. By investing in our future, the Prime Minister will be equipping Britain with the tools it needs to negotiate the uncertain times that lie ahead.”

And what about Boris’s Brexit ideas?

Wallice said “He’s got a radical and optimistic plan for a Post-Brexit Britain and that’s exactly what we need to ensure Britain is at the forefront of the competitive world. His relentless “can do” attitude will no doubt take us out of the European Union by October 31st, making a success of our independence and delivering on people’s ambition. With this, we can go into the next stage of negotiations with a strong hand in order to negotiate the best relationship for Britain.

“Looking ahead, parliamentary arithmetic could give the Conservatives a working majority of just one vote, this means that whatever deal the Prime Minister brings to the table, it will have to gather support from all sides of the House of Commons. We know that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement doesn’t have the support to pass the House, and Angela Merkel and other European leaders have stated that the deal is not open for renegotiation. This means the only plausible path is to re-determine the text in the political declaration in order to find a solution to the back-stop issue or leave with a No-Deal on October 31st. With it looking ever more likely like the latter could occur it’s absolutely vital the Prime Minister prepares Britain for the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

It’s now his responsibility to deliver on the promises he made during his leadership election in order to ensure we leave the European Union on October 31st, 2019. Once the Prime Minister has delivered the first stage of Brexit, it’s important he goes to the polls and establishes his mandate amongst the electorate. With that, he’ll have the democratic will of the majority to boost his hand in further negotiations with the European Union surrounding our future relationship.”

Further Response

Plaid Cymru Youth Society at Cardiff University said the following about Mr Johnson’s appointment: “Boris Johnson has just been elected by 0.14% of the population. This is not a democratic mandate for his dangerous and damaging no-deal Brexit. Wales can do so much better than this, and Welsh independence is now a matter of when, not if.”

This is a commonly cited criticism of the conservative membership electoral system when they are the party in power.  Many claim that when a new leader is elected, a general election should also be called, given the influence an individual inherits in the role of prime minister.

Gair Rhydd has also reached out for comment from Cardiff Uni Labour Society.

What Next?

Callum Vaga, former Conservative candidate for Cathays, now a supporter of the Brexit Party, also spoke to Gair Rhydd about Boris Johnson being voted the new leader: “The only priority I believe the new prime minister has now is to keep the government from falling apart. Regardless of issues that he may want to work on in the future, he is taking over with a wafer-thin working majority and I think it’s almost certain now that we’ll have another general election before the end of the year.”

“He is taking over with a wafer-thin working majority and I think it’s almost certain now that we’ll have another general election before the end of the year.”

“With that in mind, I think he will have to call a general election to take place before October 31st so that the Conservatives can regain a majority to ensure we leave on time. If he waits until after the extended deadline to have an election, then I think the Brexit Party will deal serious damage to the Conservative vote and the new prime minister may end up with one of the shortest premierships in history.”

Final Thoughts

One thing is certain, unlike most newly elected prime ministers, there will be no honeymoon period for Boris Johnson.  With tensions high in Westminster, his party only having a working majority of two, rising tension with Iran and with the Brexit deadline coming ever closer, Boris Johnson certainly has a busy time ahead of him.

 

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