Europe

Boris Johnson elected next British PM, set to announce diverse cabinet to deliver Brexit

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A record number of ethnic minority politicians are expected to serve as ministers when Boris Johnson takes over Theresa May as Britain's prime minister.

Boris Johnson is expected unveil a more diverse top team in government to be tasked with delivering Brexit by the end of October, after taking over as Britain's prime minister on Wednesday.

The former London mayor won the contest to succeed Theresa May on Tuesday by securing the leadership of the Conservative Party in a campaign that put the United Kingdom on course for a showdown with the European Union.

Conservative party leader Boris Johnson departs his office
Conservative party leader Boris Johnson departs his office after he was announced as the new Conservative party leader at an event in London.
EPA

Mr Johnson's cabinet choices will help to flesh out how he intends to manage the world's fifth-largest economy and its divorce from the EU at one of the most fateful moments in its modern history.

Mrs May will leave Downing Street later on Wednesday to hand in her resignation to Queen Elizabeth, who will formally appoint Mr Johnson.

Investors are braced to see who will be handed the top roles such as finance minister, foreign secretary and Brexit minister.

Record number of ethnic minority representation

A record number of ethnic minority politicians are expected to serve as ministers including Priti Patel, the former aid minister who resigned in 2017 over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials, and employment minister Alok Sharma.

More women are also expected to serve as full cabinet members.

Oliver Dowden, once deputy chief-of-staff in David Cameron's administration, former sports minister Tracey Crouch, junior finance minister Robert Jenrick and pro-Brexit lawmaker Rishi Sunak are also in line for promotion.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives for a cabinet meeting
Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London.
PA Wire

Interior minister Sajid Javid is widely tipped to stay in a top job and was spotted by British media flanking Johnson as he arrived before lawmakers following his victory.

Two junior ministers have already quit over Johnson's plans, and finance minister Philip Hammond and justice minister David Gauke have both said they plan to resign before they are sacked.

In one of his first appointments before moving into Downing Street, Johnson poached senior Sky boss Andrew Griffith as his business adviser, tasked with repairing relations with the corporate sector ahead of Brexit.

The Telegraph said Mr Johnson will appoint career diplomat David Frost as European Union sherpa and adviser on Europe.

Mr Johnson has pledged to negotiate a new divorce deal with the EU to secure a smooth transition.

But if the bloc continues to refuse to renegotiate, he has promised to leave anyway - "do or die" - on the current agreed date of October 31 - Halloween.

Many investors and economists say that such an abrupt step would rattle global markets and push the world's fifth largest economy into recession or even chaos.

Johnson beats Jeremy Hunt in ballot

Boris Johnson became Britain's prime minister-elect after defeating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt by more than 40,000 votes in a Conservative Party leadership ballot.

Almost 160,000 party members were eligible to vote for the new Conservative leader, with the result announced on Tuesday evening. Mr Johnson received 92,153 votes, while Mr Hunt garnered 46,656.

The former mayor of London and foreign secretary will officially become the prime minister after Theresa May leads her final question time before tendering her resignation to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Boris Johnson gives his victory speech.
New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Boris Johnson gives his victory speech.
AFP

In a passionate victory speech, Mr Johnson said the government's priorities under his leadership would be to "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn".

"We are going to energise the country, get Brexit done, take advantage of all the opportunities 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," he said.

"Like a slumbering giant, we are going to rise and ping off the ropes of self-doubt and negativity with better education, infrastructure, more fantastic, fantastic full-fibre Broadband, sprouting in every household."

Boris Johnson has beat Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership ballot by more than 40,000 votes.
Boris Johnson has beat Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership ballot by more than 40,000 votes.
AFP

Ms May tweeted her congratulations to Mr Johnson on Tuesday night, adding that the party now needed to "work together to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK".

The outgoing prime minister was forced to resign from the top job after failing to garner support for a deal outlining a path for Britain to leave the European Union.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hit back at Mr Johnson's victory, tweeting that he had "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".

"He hasn't won the support of our country," he said.

"The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a General Election."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had nothing but praise for Mr Johnson's victory, tweeting that the new leader "has a reputation for getting things done and making things happen".

US President Donald Trump also tweeted congratulations to the new Conservative leader, announcing that Mr Johnson "will be great".

Mr Johnson's first challenge as prime minister will be negotiating a conclusion to the Brexit impasse with the 27 European Union leaders - but the new leader said he wasn't concerned.

"Today at this pivotal moment in our history we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble sets of instincts, between the deep desire of friendship and free trade and mutual support in security and defence between Britain and our European partners, and the simultaneous desire – equally deep and heartfelt – for democratic self-government in this country," he said.

"I read in my Financial Times this morning… that no incoming leader has ever faced such a daunting set of circumstances ... Well, I look at you this morning and ask: Do you look daunted?

“I don’t think you look remotely daunted. I think we can do it and I think the people of this country are trusting in us to do it and we know that we will do it."

The former journalist has previously taken a hardline stance on Brexit and has promised to leave the EU by the twice-delayed October 31 deadline, with or without a deal.

In the lead up to the ballot, four ministers announced that they would quit the party if Mr Johnson was elected, in three cases citing his willingness to leave the EU without a deal.

More ministerial resignations are expected to follow.

Mr Johnson made his first bid for Downing Street in 2016 following former prime minister David Cameron's resignation.

He's known for being a gaffe-prone politician, most recently coming under fire for claiming that Islam has caused the Muslim world to be "centuries behind" the west

In 2018, he was rebuked by Ms May for comparing women who wear burqas and niqabs to letterboxes and bank robbers.

Watch Mr Johnson's full speech here.

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- With AAP

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