Longtime Brexit proponent Boris Johnson won a party vote to succeed Theresa May as leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party and prime minister.
Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt, who replaced his as foreign secretary under May, by a 92,153-46,656 margin, the BBC reported. Johnson, who also previously served as London’s mayor and a longtime journalist accused of spreading fake news about Europe, will take over for May on Wednesday.
The vote was held only among Conservative Party dues-paying members to select their new leader. As the new leader of the Conservative Party, he will also serve as prime minister as a result of the party’s slim majority in Parliament.
“I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision, and there may even be some people here who still wonder quite what they have done,” Johnson said Tuesday, according to The New York Times.
Despite capturing two-thirds of the party vote, Johnson remains incredibly unpopular in the UK. A YouGov poll found that just 31% of voters have a favorable opinion of Johnson while 58% had an unfavorable opinion of him.
Johnson vowed ‘no deal’ Brexit:
Johnson has vowed to go through with Brexit by the October 31 deadline even if the United Kingdom is unable to reach a deal with the European Union. May announced her resignation after the Parliament repeatedly voted down every potential deal they were presented with, including holding a do-over referendum.
“We’re going to get Brexit done on Oct. 31, we’re going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can-do, and we’re once again going to believe in ourselves,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Like some slumbering giant, we’re going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of doubt and negativity.”
With no deal in sight in Parliament and the European Union reportedly unwilling to discuss the wholesale changes that Johnson has promised, European leaders are “hardly enthusiastic” about Johnson’s win, The Times reported.
Earlier this year, European Council President Donald Tusk said there was a “special place in hell” reserved for “those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it out safely.”
Several ministers have already announced plans to leave the government because of their opposition to a no-deal Brexit.
What happens now?
“Turbulence over Brexit has even raised questions about the durability of the United Kingdom itself, prompting renewed talk about possible Scottish independence and a united Ireland,” The Times reported. “Although other nations like Ireland would be hit very hard, one report said that the costs of ‘no deal’ would be four times as large for the British than for the rest of the European Union collectively. That is because exports to the European Union make up around 13 percent of Britain’s economic output, while exports the other way account for 2.5 percent of the bloc’s output.”
Parliament has been opposed to a no-deal Brexit.
“Mr. Johnson has not ruled out suspending Parliament to take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31, but last week lawmakers approved by 41 votes a measure that would make it harder to bypass Parliament,” The Times reported.
“He will face the facts and decide that if you try to engineer no-deal without Parliament — against Parliament’s wishes — and without public endorsement, you better hope it works perfectly,” former Prime Minister Tony Blair told the outlet. “Because if it doesn’t, you’re going to be in all sorts of difficulty for the rest of your time in politics.”