Saturday July 4th, 2020 6:54AM

Boris Johnson to become UK PM, aiming to win over doubters

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — Boris Johnson was due to enter 10 Downing St. as Britain's new prime minister on Wednesday, vowing to lead the U.K. out of the European Union and unite a country deeply divided over Brexit.

It's a tall order. Johnson has just 99 days to make good on his promise to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31, "come what may."

The former mayor of London and foreign secretary is getting Britain's top job in politics after winning a contest to lead the governing Conservative Party.

Famed for his bravado, quips in Latin and blond mop of hair, Johnson easily defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt, winning two-thirds of the votes of about 160,000 party members across the U.K.

He replaces Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month after Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc, leaving Britain stranded in Brexit limbo as the U.K.'s departure from the EU was delayed past its long-scheduled March exit date.

Johnson was taking office in a day of carefully choreographed political drama that began with May attending the weekly Prime Minister's Questions period in the House of Commons for the last time.

The usually boisterous session was subdued, with Conservative colleagues praising May's sense of duty and opposition leaders offering best wishes, while aiming their fire at her replacement. May just shook her head when Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn asked if she would help him stop "the reckless plans of her successor," who has vowed to leave the EU if necessary without a Brexit divorce deal.

May offered Johnson slightly muted praise, saying she was pleased to hand over to a Conservative committed to "delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016 and to delivering a bright future for this country."

And she fired back at Corbyn: "As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same?"

As she left the Commons chamber, May was given a standing ovation by Conservative lawmakers, many of whom helped bring her down by rejecting her Brexit deal.

After saying goodbye to Downing Street staff, May stood outside the prime minister's residence and spoke publicly for the last time as Britain's leader.

With husband, Philip, by her side, May said it had been "the greatest honor" to serve as prime minister.

Reminding her successor of the risks posed by a disruptive Brexit, May said the new government's priority must be "to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom."

May and her husband then traveled by ministerial Jaguar the mile (1.6 kilometers) to Buckingham Palace to advise Queen Elizabeth II to ask Johnson to form a new government. The palace confirmed in a statement that the 93-year-old monarch had accepted May's resignation.

May left the palace after a half-hour. Moments later, Johnson's car swept through the gates of the royal residence. He will be the 14th prime minister of the queen's 67-year reign.

There was a brief hiccup in the smooth handover when environmental protesters blocked Johnson's car by forming a human chain across the road outside the palace. They were quickly bundled aside by his police escort.

Greenpeace said its activists had tried to hand Johnson a letter calling for strong action against climate change.

Later, Johnson is to give a speech outside 10 Downing St., giving Britons a glimpse at his priorities and policy plans.

Then the real battle starts.

Johnson has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on the currently scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a deal on departure terms. Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession, and the EU is adamant that the deal it made with May will not be renegotiated.

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said "we are ready to listen and to work with" Johnson, but did not budge on the bloc's refusal to alter the deal.

"A no-deal Brexit will never be, never, the choice of the EU. But we are prepared," he said in Brussels.

Johnson, whose personal brand is built on optimism — and, critics say, an ambiguous relationship with facts — promised Tuesday to deliver Brexit "in a new spirit of can do."

"I say to all the doubters: 'Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done,'" he said.

To succeed, Johnson must win over the many Britons opposed to Brexit and resistant to his blustering charms.

In a sign he hopes to move beyond the largely white, male and affluent Conservative members who chose him as their leader, Johnson's office said his government would be a "Cabinet for modern Britain" with more women and a record number of ministers from ethnic minorities.

His administration is also set to include some pro-EU politicians, but many members will be strong Brexit supporters like Johnson. One of his senior advisers is set to be Dominic Cummings, lead strategist for the "Vote Leave" campaign in the 2016 EU membership referendum.

A contentious figure, Cummings was found to be in contempt of Parliament earlier this year for refusing to give evidence to a committee of lawmakers investigating "fake news."

Several senior members of May's government who oppose a no-deal Brexit resigned Wednesday before they could be fired by Johnson. Treasury chief Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Justice Secretary David Gauke all quit, along with David Lidington, who was May's deputy prime minister.

"Given Boris's stated policy of leaving the EU by October 31 at all costs, I am not willing to serve in his government," Gauke said in his resignation letter.

___

Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Boris Johnson to become UK PM, aiming to win over doubters
Boris Johnson was due to become Britain's new prime minister, vowing to lead the UK out of the European Union, and unite a country deeply divided over Brexit
8:33AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Iran's president hints at quid pro quo for seized UK ship
President Hassan Rouhani has suggested Iran might release a U.K.-flagged ship if Britain takes similar steps to release an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month
8:27AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Meek Mill launches new record label with Jay-Z's Roc Nation
Meek Mill is in a Jay-Z state of mind: The Philadelphia rapper-turned-entrepreneur is launching a new record label in a joint venture with Jay-Z's Roc Nation
8:16AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
New German defense minister backs higher military spending
Germany's new defense minister is underlining her commitment to long-term military spending targets and says that financing must keep rising, telling critics that that reflects Germany's own needs rather than outside pressure
8:00AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Nissan directors say reforms, job cuts are coming
Nissan directors say governance reforms, job cuts to drive recovery from Ghosn scandal
7:45AM ( 56 minutes ago )
Automaker Daimler loses $1.3 billion on diesel, air bag woes
Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, says it lost $1.3 billion in the second quarter on one-time charges for troubles with diesel cars and air bag recalls
7:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Iran's president hints at quid pro quo for seized UK ship
President Hassan Rouhani has suggested Iran might release a U.K.-flagged ship if Britain takes similar steps to release an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month
8:27AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Meek Mill launches new record label with Jay-Z's Roc Nation
Meek Mill is in a Jay-Z state of mind: The Philadelphia rapper-turned-entrepreneur is launching a new record label in a joint venture with Jay-Z's Roc Nation
8:16AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: Mueller arrives for testimony on Russia probe
Former special counsel Robert Mueller arrives on Capitol Hill to testify before 2 House panels about his Russia investigation
8:10AM ( 31 minutes ago )
The Latest: May's praise muted for successor Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Theresa May says she's glad her successor, Boris Johnson, is committed to "delivering on the vote of the people in 2016" to leave the European Union
8:09AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Hungary's Milak breaks Phelps' world record in 200 butterfly
Kristof Milak of Hungary won the 200-meter butterfly at the world swimming championships, breaking Michael Phelps' 10-year-old world record
8:06AM ( 35 minutes ago )