July 23 (UPI) — Tens of thousands of Conservative Party members voted Tuesday to select Boris Johnson as their leader, and Britain’s new prime minister — defeating Jeremy Hunt in his bid to succeed Theresa May in the post.
More than 150,000 party voters cast ballots to choose the new leader in London. Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis announced the result Tuesday.
“It is now paramount that we come together,” he said, “to get behind our new leader and out next prime minister.”
As the new PM, Johnson will lead a country that’s divided by its planned departure from the European Union in October, and growing threats from the Middle East. Johnson has made no secret of his intention to leave the EU on the Oct. 31 deadline, with or without an agreement.
Johnson’s victory was announced Tuesday morning. Hunt didn’t have sufficient support for the leadership post and could also be out of his ministerial position by the end of next week. Johnson will officially take office Wednesday.
Tuesday’s election finishes political turmoil that’s been going for months, and follows pledges by May to give up her position after she failed three times to sell her negotiated exit agreement to British lawmakers.
Like May, Johnson will have a narrow two-seat majority in British Parliament. Several lawmakers in recent weeks have already quit or announced they will resign amid the uncertainty over the EU exit — including Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Lawmaker Anne Milton, Britain’s former education minister, resigned even before Johnson declared victory, saying she has “grave concerns” about leaving the EU without an agreement.