Boris Johnson faces hurdles on all sides in first 100 days

BORIS Johnson will take over as Prime Minister today with  challenges already overflowing from his in-tray.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 8:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 9:06 pm
Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister today
Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister today

He won the keys to Number Ten by beating Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership contest with almost twice as many votes from party members as his rival.

But with 100 days to go to his October 31 deadline for leaving the EU, Mr Johnson faces hurdles on all sides.

Nicola Sturgeon immediately said she may now “accelerate” plans for a second independence referendum.

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Key figures inside his own party are resigning their posts in the wake of Mr Johnson’s victory.

And a cross-party group of MPs is asking the Court of Session to rule that the Prime Minister cannot lawfully advise the Queen to suspend parliament in order to prevent MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson insisted he would “get Brexit done” by October 31 with a “new spirit of can-do”. And he continued: “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.”

He won 92,153 votes - or 66 per cent - to Mr Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4 per cent among 159,320 party members.

US president Donald Trump showed his approval of the result via Twitter: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!”

Theresa May will officially stand down today after taking a final Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Johnson will then be asked by the Queen to form a new government and is expected to reveal some senior Cabinet appointments tonight.

Ms Sturgeon congratulated Mr Johnson on his election and said she would “do everything possible to ensure he respects Scotland’s views and interests”.

But she said she had “profound concerns” about the prospect of his premiership and described his pledge to leave the EU by October 31 – “come what may” and “do or die” as “deeply irresponsible”.

She said: “Scotland did not vote for Brexit, or for the current Tory Government – and certainly not for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. All of this underlines the need for Scotland to have the right to determine our own future, in line with the democratic wishes of all those who live here.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie called for a fresh referendum to be held urgently.

He said: “Scotland needs a route out of Boris’ Brexit Britain, and while we already have a firm mandate to hold a referendum, Johnson’s elevation to the office of Prime Minister on the back of bluff and bluster is hugely concerning and reinforces the need to hold this vote urgently.

“Brexit is already having a hugely detrimental impact with EU citizens in particular feeling under attack as rhetoric from the likes of Johnson and co has been relentless over the last three years. In the face of this utter shambles it has never been more important that Scotland retakes our place as an independent European nation.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also hit out at the new Prime Minister. He said: “Boris Johnson represents a dangerous form of English nationalism, and the one certainty of his election as leader of the Tory party is more uncertainty for the future of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Tory party he now leads is a real and present danger to Scotland’s place in the UK.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond heads a long list of ministers who are quitting before Mr Johnson officially becomes Prime Minister in a show of disapproval. Others include International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and Justice Secretary David Gauke.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray is among the cross-party group of politicians taking court action in a bid to stop Mr Johnson forcing through a no-deal Brexit by suspending parliament. He said: “Boris Johnson’s dangerous and reckless proposal to shut parliament down is undemocratic and simply cannot go unchallenged. The future of the country is at stake, and working together across parties in the best interests of the people of the entire UK has never been more important.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson conceded there was “scepticism” about Mr Johnson but vowed she would judge him on his actions.

She said she had criticised him when she thought he “merited it” and insisted she would continue to do so.

But she said : “He’s prime minister, he’s won it fair and square, and most fair-minded Scots across the country will judge his premiership by his actions in office, as I will.”

Ms Davidson said: “I think he needs to deliver, and I think there is a scepticism, not just in Scotland but across the whole country, about what kind of prime minister Boris Johnson will be. We will only know that once he is in office, but warm words aren’t going to be enough, we need to see some actions.”