London: UK Conservative Party leadership contest has been won by Boris Johnson who will now take over from outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May when she steps down on Wednesday.
Johnson, a former Mayor of London and British Foreign Secretary, secured 92,153 votes, while rival Jeremy Hunt scored 46,656 votes in a ballot of party members. In a speech right after, Johnson said, “Today the campaign is over and the work begins.” Tweeting about his win, “Thank you all for the incredible honour you have done me. The time for campaigning is over and the time for work begins to unite our country and party, deliver Brexit and defeat Corbyn. I will work flat out to repay your confidence.”
The leadership vote followed May’s forced resignation after losing the support of her Cabinet as many of her colleagues were reportedly tired of her inability to secure the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Johnson, 55, will inherit the problem of a deeply divided Parliament when he assumes the role of the PM. Throughout his leadership campaign, Johnson has shown his willingness to exit the EU without a deal, pledging to leave “do or die” on October 31, the latest deadline for the UK to depart the bloc.
While Johnson’s stance on Brexit has defined his leadership bid, his remarks on religion and race have sparked criticism. In a newspaper story, he had likened Muslim women in veils as “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.”
Just a day ago, Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan resigned over Johnson’s hardline stance. And reports say it is expected to trigger more resignations in the coming days.
“It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit,” Duncan said in his resignation letter, as quoted by the local media.
Rory Stewart, the UK International Development Secretary who made a high-profile but unsuccessful bid to lead the Conservative Party, has also said he would rather resign than serve under Johnson.
Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke had also confirmed they will step down before Johnson became the prime minister.