Boris Johnson has been chosen to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by the Conservative Party. The former mayor of London will take over from incumbent Theresa May on Wednesday (24 July 2019).
In his victory speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Johnson promised he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn”.
“We are going to energise the country. We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do. We are once again going to believe in ourselves, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the ropes of self-doubt and negativity.”
Outgoing PM May was forced out of her position by her failure to unite the party and convince Parliament to agree on a deal for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Three years after the referendum vote to leave the European Union, Britain remains a member amid continued wrangling in a divided parliament on how to proceed.
Johnson will now be in the position to revive talks with the EU on a withdrawal deal that it has been adamant cannot be reopened, or else lead Britain into the economic uncertainty of an unmanaged departure—a ‘no-deal Brexit’ which Johnson has advocated for as foreign minister under former PM May’s cabinet.
Johnson also inherits a divided Conservative Party. Pro-EU rebels within the party are vowing to block Johnson’s ‘do-or-die’ Brexit on 31 October, where a no-deal exit will happen if a new agreement cannot be reached by then. Two junior ministers have already quit over Johnson’s willingness to leave the EU without transition arrangements, and Finance Minister Philip Hammond and Justice Minister David Gauke have both said they plan to resign.
According to economists, a no-deal Brexit will send shock waves through world markets and tip the world’s fifth-largest economy into chaos. A Brexit without a divorce deal would also weaken London’s position as the pre-eminent international financial centre, while jolting the European economy as well. ASEAN economies are less likely to be affected, but close ties to the UK economy will also mean uncertainty in the markets.
Among the outcomes would be that dozens of trade deals negotiated with the wider world by the EU bloc would suddenly be replaced for the UK by World Trade Organization rules. That would require Britain to negotiate new, unilateral trade deals with all of its trading partners across the globe, including individual ASEAN economies. It would have to do so from a much weaker position, without the collective bargaining power of the rest of Europe behind it.