Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson Prime Minister-in-waiting after being crowned Tory leader

Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Boris Johnson is set to become Prime Minister on Wednesday after winning the Tory leadership election.

The former London Mayor won the contest against Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt with 92,153 votes to Hunt's 46,656.

Mr Johnson's share of the vote - 66.4% - is slightly lower than the share won by David Cameron in the 2005 Conservative leadership election (67.6%).

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds was quick to congratulate Mr Johnson saying he was looking forward "to continuing our discussions on achieving our shared objectives to advance the Union, deliver Brexit and restore devolved government in NI".

In his victory speech, Mr Johnson thanked Tory members for the "extraordinary honour and privilege you have just conferred on me".

"I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision," he said.

"There may even be some people here who still wonder what they have done."

He praised Theresa May for her "extraordinary service to this party and this country", saying it was a privilege to serve in her Cabinet.

The former Foreign Secretary repeated his campaign mantra "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn", adding: "And that is what we are going to do."

"I know some wag who has already pointed out that deliver, unite and defeat was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign since unfortunately it spells dud," Mr Johnson said.

"But they forgot the final E my friends, E for energise.

"And I say to all the doubters, 'Dude we are going to energise the country, we are going to get Brexit done on October 31, we are going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can do'.

"And we are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity."

Improved education, infrastructure, more police and full-fibre broadband are among the ways Mr Johnson said this would be achieved.

"We are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward," he said.

Mr Johnson's victory could spark more Government resignations after Sir Alan Duncan quit as Foreign Office minister on Monday in protest at his expected victory. He predicted a “crisis of government” if Mr Johnson becomes PM.

Education minister Anne Milton resigned on Tuesday, saying that she has "grave concerns about leaving the EU without a deal".

Ministers opposed to his “do or die” pledge to pull the UK out of the EU on October 31, even if there is no deal in place, could leave before Theresa May formally gives up the premiership on Wednesday afternoon.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke have already given notice that they will resign rather than serve under Mr Johnson.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson said it is ‘all to play for’ as they wait to learn who will be the next prime minister (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson said it is ‘all to play for’ as they wait to learn who will be the next prime minister (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

So too has Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary.

Mrs May will tender her resignation to the Queen after taking Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon for the final time, with the new Tory leader set to enter Number 10 soon afterwards.

The new prime minister will have to govern with a Tory-DUP majority of just two, after Dover MP Charlie Elphicke had the Conservative whip suspended when he was charged with sexually assaulting two women.

The Government majority could be further reduced next week if the Tories lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

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