Johnson wins the race for Number 10. But the marathon has just begun…

23 July 2019 - by Gráinne Walsh

The race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and the new Prime Minister, has ended, with the undaunted Boris Johnson winning by a considerable margin.

On a turnout of 87.4%, Boris Johnson secured 92,153 votes to Jeremy Hunt’s 46,656. That’s 66% of Conservative Party members’ votes. He will take over the reins of government on Wednesday 23rd July, after Theresa May completes her final Prime Minister’s Questions.

While Johnson has a clear mandate from the membership of the Conservative Party to lead them through the final stages of the Brexit process, he still has to overcome the complexities of leading a minority government and managing the fractious tribes within it. 

It was the complex numbers game within Westminster which ultimately brought about the downfall of Theresa May’s premiership and has left the UK no closer to leaving the EU with a deal. Just as Mrs May was challenged at every point by Brexiteers, particularly the ERG group, Mr Johnson will face the manoeuvrings of those determined to stop a no deal Brexit.

Some of the issues facing the new PM are:

  • Developing a sense of unity in the Tory Party
  • Trying to reopen negotiations with the EU
  • The renewal of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the DUP
  • Getting the balancing act right for his new Cabinet
  • Delivering a clear message of what his vision of Brexit looks like
  • Rebuilding the support of the public following disastrous local government and European elections

With the Brexit deadline getting closer, and the country as polarised as ever on the subject, Johnson will not be able to enjoy a honeymoon period.  He will have to get to grips with the challenges of leadership immediately, and deliver on the promises he has made over the past number of years.

Working on the premise that we need a leaver to deliver Brexit, when will it happen?  Will there be a requirement for another extension?  Will the new PM seek a General Election to try and unify the Tory Party and the country?  What will the DUP’s price for support in the renegotiation of the Confidence and Supply Agreement?

One thing is constant, Northern Ireland will remain centre stage.