Delight and dismay as Boris Johnson becomes Tory leader
Opinion was mixed as politicians at home and abroad responded to Mr Johnson’s ascension.
As Boris Johnson secured victory in the Tory leadership race, ensuring his place as the country’s next prime minister, reaction from the political world veered between delight, dismay and derision.
Defeated Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt led a host of his fellow Conservatives in congratulating Mr Johnson after a “well fought” campaign.
Congratulations @BorisJohnson 4 a campaign well https://t.co/b1rmrIHic6'll be a great PM for our country at this critical moment!Throughout campaign you showed optimism,energy & unbounded confidence in our wonderful country & we need that.All best wishes from the entrepreneur :-)— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) July 23, 2019
“You’ll be a great PM for our country at this critical moment,” he tweeted.
Many leading Tories – including a number who may now be hoping for key cabinet positions – repeated calls for the party to unite and ensure the UK’s departure from the EU.
Among them were other former leadership contenders, including Matt Hancock, who tweeted: “Huge congrats to Boris Johnson on winning the Conservative leadership. Time for us to get behind him to deliver Brexit, unite the country — and then get on to all the other things that matter to people across the UK.”
Huge congrats to @BorisJohnson on winning the Conservative leadership. Time for us to get behind him to deliver Brexit, unite the country - and then get on to all the other things that matter to people across the UK#conservativeleadership— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) July 23, 2019
Sajid Javid offered similar sentiments, posting: “Congratulations @BorisJohnson on a resounding victory! Now let’s come together as a party under his superb leadership, so we can deliver Brexit, unite our great country and defeat Corbyn.”
Well fought campaign by my fine colleague @jeremy_hunt.— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 23, 2019
Congratulations @BorisJohnson on a resounding victory! Now let’s come together as a party under his superb leadership, so we can deliver Brexit, unite our great country and defeat Corbyn.
However, a number of opponents of Mr Johnson’s threat of a possible no-deal Brexit were more muted in their responses, with International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Justice Secretary David Gauke both indicating their plans to return to the backbenches.
Congratulations @BorisJohnson on becoming Leader. Honour to serve in turn as Minister of Environment @DefraGovUK, Mid East +Asia @DFID_UK, Africa @FCO, Prisons @MoJGovUK + then Development Secretary in Cabinet +NSC. Backbench tomorrow serving Cumbria. Thank you all. More walking! pic.twitter.com/2PVLTaGXXR— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) July 23, 2019
Congratulations @BorisJohnson on being elected as Leader of @Conservatives and PM @10DowningStreet. An honour to serve in Cabinet @MoJGovUK, @DWP and @hmtreasury under @theresa_may. Looking forward to returning to backbenches tomorrow, serving people of South West Hertfordshire.— David Gauke (@DavidGauke) July 23, 2019
Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond – who has also stated that he will resign from his post – tweeted: “Congratulations @BorisJohnson! You have said very clearly that you are determined to do a deal with Brussels – and you will have my wholehearted support in doing so. Good luck!”
Congratulations @BorisJohnson! You have said very clearly that you are determined to do a deal with Brussels - and you will have my wholehearted support in doing so. Good luck!— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) July 23, 2019
Some world leaders offered congratulations to Mr Johnson, including Australia’s Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump – who proclaimed “he will be great!”.
Congratulations to @BorisJohnson on his election as Leader of the Conservative Party in the UK. I look forward to working with him and catching up at the G7 next month.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) July 23, 2019
Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2019
A man who could play a key role in Mr Johnson’s campaign pledge, EU Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, said he looks forward to “working constructively” with Boris Johnson to “achieve an orderly Brexit”.
We look forward to working constructively w/ PM @BorisJohnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit. We are ready also to rework the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO guidelines.— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) July 23, 2019
Mr Barnier added: “We are ready also to rework the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO guidelines.”
And Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit co-ordinator, announced an extraordinary meeting would be held with Mr Barnier in response to Mr Johnson’s election.
“The meeting will be followed by an official communication,” he tweeted.
“Looking forward to defending the interest of all Europeans.”
The @Europarl_EN’s Brexit Steering Group will hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow with @michelBarnier to respond to @BorisJohnson's election. The meeting will be followed by an official communication. Looking forward to defending the interest of all Europeans. #Brexit— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) July 23, 2019
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan also congratulated the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP, who once called him a “wankerer” in a satirical limerick which rhymed the invented word with the Turkish capital of Ankara and described him having sex with a goat.
“I believe that Turkey-United Kingdom relations will develop further in this new period,” Mr Erdogan said.
Back home, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Mr Johnson’s interest in a no-deal Brexit and relationship with Mr Trump would harm the the UK.
He also condemned the “unrepresentative” nature of Mr Johnson’s election by the members of the Tory party.
Johnson’s No Deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 23, 2019
The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a General Election.
“Johnson’s No Deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump,” he tweeted.
“The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a General Election.”
Mr Corbyn’s sentiment was echoed by newly-elected Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.
“Britain deserves better than Boris Johnson,” she tweeted.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage wished Mr Johnson well, praising his “do or die pledge to deliver Brexit on October 31st”.
But he outlined the threat faced by Mr Johnson if he fails to achieve his target, asking: “Does he have the courage to deliver?”
I wish @BorisJohnson well as Prime Minister with his do or die pledge to deliver Brexit on October 31st. Does he have the courage to deliver?— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 23, 2019
Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, congratulated Mr Johnson on his election but reaffirmed that preparations would be made for a second Scottish independence referendum.
2. However, it would be hypocritical not to be frank about the profound concerns I have at the prospect of his premiership. I am certain that the vast majority of people of Scotland would not have chosen to hand the keys of No 10 to someone with his views and track record.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 23, 2019
4. And I will continue to advance the preparations to give Scotland the right to choose our own future through independence, rather than having a future that we don’t want imposed on us by Boris Johnson and the Tories. That is now more important than ever.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 23, 2019
“I will continue to advance the preparations to give Scotland the right to choose our own future through independence, rather than having a future that we don’t want imposed on us by Boris Johnson and the Tories,” she tweeted.
“That is now more important than ever.”
Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “It makes no difference to RMT what right wing Tory is running transport.
“Our fight for safety, Jobs, pay, decent working conditions and public ownership goes on and it will be business as usual as far as we are concerned.”