Johnson promises ‘can-do spirit’ in delivering Brexit after Tory Leadership victory
- Gibraltar Government and opposition parties react to result
Boris Johnson began putting together his Cabinet last night and preparing for government after a landslide victory in the Tory leadership contest.
The new Conservative Party leader used his victory speech to promise that he would meet the October 31 Brexit deadline with a "new spirit of can-do", releasing the country's "guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity".
The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, has written to Mr Johnson to congratulate him on becoming the Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. He will make a further statement when Mr Johnson takes over from Theresa May as prime minister today.
Mr Picardo, who also wrote to Jo Swinson to congratulate her on being elected as the Leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrat party, met with Mr Johnson just last week to discuss Brexit.
He tweeted a photo of himself with the future prime minister and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, congratulating Mr Johnson and adding: “Looking forward to working together in the best interests of #Gibraltar and the #UK.”
Gibraltar’s opposition parties also moved to welcome Mr Johnson as the new prime minister, as they expressed hope that Gibraltar’s interests would be taken into account when considering Brexit.
The GSD said: “This task claimed Theresa May who unsuccessfully attempted to navigate those very complicated waters between the various Parliamentary factions and shades of public opinion on the most divisive of issues.”
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “We hope that Mr Johnson will ensure that he also has the wishes and interests of the people of Gibraltar in mind when considering Brexit.”
“We are the only British territory with a land frontier with mainland Europe. We have decisively expressed a wish to have a close relationship with the European Union and while Mr Johnson was one of the foremost advocates of the Vote Leave campaign we trust he will be sympathetic to the economic and political aspirations of the people of Gibraltar.”
“A free flowing border and market access to the EU and the UK are clear goals for Gibraltar and it is important he does his utmost to ensure our political and economic rights are protected and fully respected by Spain,” Mr Azopardi said.
In welcoming Mr Johnson in his new role, Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon wished him well navigating these “hard political times ahead”.
She told the Chronicle that the overwhelming message from the people of Gibraltar in connection to Brexit had always been to stay in the European Union.
“We are also united in the reality that there is no mandate, across the board, for a hard Brexit. As such, and as a people, we are a community of remainers, and support the prospect of a second referendum.”
“Regardless of this possibility, we hope that our goals and interests will be duly represented by the new premiership going forward,” Ms Hassan Nahon said.
Mr Johnson secured more than two-thirds of the votes in the contest, comfortably defeating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
He said it was an "extraordinary honour and privilege" and insisted that "we are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward".
At the leadership announcement event in central London, Mr Johnson said: "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.
But Mr Johnson's main task will be fulfilling his "do or die" promise to deliver Brexit on October 31, which he has said he will do with or without a deal.
Theresa May, who will resign as Prime Minister today, offered her congratulations but stressed that Mr Johnson should work "to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK", a clear warning against a no-deal departure.
She promised Mr Johnson "my full support from the back benches".
US President Donald Trump, who repeatedly praised Mr Johnson even while visiting Mrs May, said he would be a "great" prime minister.
Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said Brussels looked forward to working with the new prime minister on ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement - the deal which Mr Johnson has already declared dead.
Mr Barnier said the EU was ready to "rework" the Political Declaration on the future relationship.
Mr Johnson will be appointed as prime minister today by the Queen after Mrs May formally resigns.
He secured 92,153 votes - 66.4% - to defeat Mr Hunt in the leadership ballot.
Despite the resounding victory, Mr Johnson's share of the vote was slightly lower than that achieved by David Cameron in the 2005 Conservative leadership election, when he took 67.6%.
Mr Johnson faces a daunting in-tray at Number 10, not only the tight Brexit deadline but also the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, where tensions have been heightened following Iran's seizure of the British-registered Stena Impero tanker.
The challenge facing Mr Johnson is made even more difficult by a wafer-thin Tory-DUP majority of two in the Commons, with the prospect of it being reduced to just one if the Conservatives fail to win the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on August 1.
The incoming premier has been left in no doubt about the opposition he will face from his own benches if he attempts to force through a no-deal Brexit.
Sir Alan Duncan quit as a Foreign Office minister on Monday and Anne Milton as education minister on Tuesday, rather than serve under Mr Johnson.
Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart are expected to join them on the back benches after the leadership change.
Mr Stewart congratulated Mr Johnson, and confirmed he would return to the back benches on Wednesday, tweeting: "Backbench tomorrow serving Cumbria. Thank you all. More walking!"
Chancellor Philip Hammond, who will resign from the Government on Wednesday afternoon, also congratulated Mr Johnson and said he had his "wholehearted support" in seeking a deal with Brussels.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged Mr Johnson to call a general election.
He said: "Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers' friend, and pushing for a damaging no-deal Brexit. But he hasn't won the support of our country."
Mr Johnson is expected to make Cabinet appointments this evening.
Mark Spencer will become his chief whip - a key position as Mr Johnson attempts to govern with a working Tory-DUP majority of just two.
Mr Hunt said Mr Johnson would make a "great prime minister" and conceded he had had a "big mountain to climb" in the contest.
"I never felt it was too much of an uphill struggle but I always knew that it was going to be a big mountain to climb," the Foreign Secretary told the BBC.
"I think Boris fought a very, very good campaign. It was a very clear campaign, his messages were absolutely clear and I think, as I say, he will now be a great prime minister.
"It's a challenging moment for our country - this is perhaps the most difficult legacy that a prime minister has inherited in peacetime. It's going to be very challenging.
"But he has got the confidence and the optimism and the energy to get us through this and that's why I think he will be a great prime minister."