UPDATED: Boris Johnson becomes Britain’s new prime minister
Boris Johnson took over as Britain’ s prime minister Wednesday , promising to pull his country out of the European Union on October 31 by any means necessary.
A day after winning the leadership of his Conservative party , the former London mayor and figurehead of the 2016 Brexit campaign formally replaced Theresa May.
His ascent is the culmination of a lifelong ambition for the blond-haired politician, who delights in playing the clown but now faces an immense challenge ahead .
Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit in three months’ time but faces opposition in Brussels and has only a wafer – thin majority in the British parliament.
Beloved by many for his refusal to take life too seriously, he is accused by others of divisive rhetoric , a flexible approach to the truth and incompetence .
Before he even took office , several pro – European ministers quit in protest at his threat to leave the EU without a divorce agreement to ease the split.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged Johnson to call a snap general election, saying he has no mandate from the public to govern .
Although he won a landslide of Conservative party members, a YouGov survey Wednesday found Johnson ’ s approval rating was just 31 per cent among the public .
Even his appointment was disrupted by climate protesters, who briefly stopped his convoy heading to Buckingham Palace to be nominated by Queen Elizabeth II .
– Brexit challenge –
Johnson is expected to swiftly announce his new cabinet , and his first appointment proved predictably contentious .
He named as a top adviser Dominic Cummings, a combative character who helped lead the victorious “ Vote Leave ” campaign during the 2016 EU referendum .
May resigned after failing to get her plan for leaving the EU through parliament , forcing her to twice delay Britain’ s departure date.
Johnson has vowed to renegotiate her deal or take Britain out of the bloc at the next deadline, October 31 , without any agreement with Brussels .
But the EU refuses to reopen the text , while some of his own MPs have said they might even bring down the government rather than accept a damaging “ no- deal ” exit.
May took over three years ago promising to deal with the “ burning injustices ” in society but leaves behind a divided party , country and Brexit in doubt.
In a short speech in Downing Street , before tendering her resignation to the queen at the palace , she wished Johnson “ every good fortune ” .
A heckler shouted “ Stop Brexit ” as she stood with her husband Philip by her side, to which she retorted : “ I think not .”
But she emphasised that Brexit should be done “ in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom ” , amid fears a disorderly divorce could cause irreparable damage to ties between England , Northern Ireland and Scotland .
During his victory speech on Tuesday , Johnson urged Britain to “ ping off the guy – ropes of self – doubt and negativity ” and vowed to unite the country.
A source in his campaign team said he would build a diverse cabinet with more women and a record number of ethnic minority politicians .
Sajid Javid , the son of Pakistani immigrants and currently May’ s interior minister , has been widely tipped to take over as finance minister .
– ‘ Britain Trump ’ –
Brexit aside, the most immediate problem facing Johnson is a stand -off with Iran after Tehran seized a UK – flagged tanker in the Gulf last week .
The current foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was Johnson ’ s rival for the leadership and is not expected to keep his job , although he may stay in the cabinet .
May’ s government also provoked the ire of US President Donald Trump this month with the leak of diplomatic cables criticising the White House .
Johnson has emphasised the importance of Britain’ s relations with the United States.
And Trump was one of the first to congratulate Johnson on his victory saying he would be “ great” and describing him as “ Britain Trump ” .
Trump suggested Johnson would work together well with anti – EU figurehead Nigel Farage, whose Brexit Party has taken a big chunk of eurosceptic votes from the Conservatives .
Johnson has ruled out any electoral pact .