Boris Johnson has won the Conservative Party leadership contest and is set to be appointed prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, amid warnings he will assume office with a “dozen knives already in his back”.
The former foreign secretary easily saw off the challenge from Jeremy Hunt in the ballot of the 159,320 Tory members, winning 66% of the vote.
The result of the contest was announced on Tuesday morning in Westminster. Johnson received 92,153 votes while Hunt won just 46,465. Turnout was 87.4%.
Speaking after his victory was announced, Johnson told supporters he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn”.
“I say to all the doubters, ‘dude, we are going to energise the country’,” he added.
Donald Trump quickly endorsed Johnson. “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” he tweeted.
Theresa May is due to take part in one final session of prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, before making a statement outside Downing Street and heading to Buckingham Palace to formally resign.
Johnson will make his own visit to see The Queen to take over as prime minister. He will then travel to No.10 Downing Street where he is expected to deliver a speech before assembling his new cabinet.
But his honeymoon period is likely to be short, as Tory MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit move to prevent him from taking the UK out of the EU on October 31 without an agreement.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart have confirmed they will resign tomorrow before Johnson takes office.
“There is a clear majority in the House of Commons that doesn’t want to leave the EU without a deal,” Gauke told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning.
Ann Milton resigned as an education minister shortly before Johnson’s victory was announced. “I have grave concerns about leaving the EU without a deal,” she said. “It is important to me to be free to do what I feel is right for the country and my constituents.”
While Alan Duncan, who quit as a Foreign Office minister yesterday morning, had hoped to force an emergency Commons debate to test whether Johnson could command a majority.
Tory MP Nigel Evans, a leading member of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs, predicted Johnson would be entering No.10 “with at least half a dozen knives already in his back”.
Johnson will have to govern with a Tory-DUP majority of just two. The government majority could be further reduced next week if, as expected, the Tories lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.
HuffPost UK understands Jeremy Corbyn will not formally table a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government immediately. The Labour leader will instead wait until after the summer in the hope he will then have a better chance of forcing a general election.