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Britain's new leader: Brexiteer Boris Johnson to be prime minister

Europe | 2019-07-23 16:07:57
Britain's new leader: Brexiteer Boris Johnson to be prime minister
Boris Johnson, the ebullient Brexiteer who has promised to lead Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal by Halloween, will replace Theresa May as prime minister after winning the leadership of the Conservative Party Tuesday.

His victory catapults the United Kingdom towards a Brexit showdown with the EU and towards a constitutional crisis at home, as British lawmakers have vowed to bring down any government that tries to leave the bloc without a divorce deal.

Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit referendum, won the votes of 92,153 members of the Conservative party, to 46,656 for his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

May will leave office on Wednesday after going to Buckingham Palace to see Queen Elizabeth, who will formally appoint Johnson before he enters Downing Street.

The result is a spectacular victory for one of Britain's most flamboyant politicians, and places an avowed Brexit supporter in charge of the government for the first time since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in the shock 2016 referendum.

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson, tweeting "He will be great!” French President Emmanuel Macron also congratulated Johnson, saying he was keen to work with him not just on Brexit but key on international issues.

"I congratulate Boris Johnson and I will call him when he is officially prime minister," Macron said. The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, congratulated Johnson, but warned that the European Union and the U.K. faced "difficult" and "challenging" times ahead.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also congratulated the incoming prime minister, saying in a tweet that Tehran does not seek confrontation with London.

"I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM," Zarif said on Twitter. "Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them."

"The May govt's seizure of Iranian oil (tanker) at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple," Zarif added.

Reuters
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