Boris Johnson wins race to be Britain's next leader

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 7:31 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019
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11:52 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

We're wrapping up our live coverage

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

"It is more likely that I will be reincarnated as an olive, locked in a disused fridge, decapitated by a flying frisbee" - Boris Johnson in 2015, when asked by Channel 4 News about his chances of becoming prime minister.

And yet, here we are. Boris Johnson's lengthy journey to the summit of British politics was completed on Tuesday, when he was announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party -- and Britain's next prime minister.

"Dude, we're going to energize the country," he promised a packed event hall.

Johnson will take the keys to Downing Street on Wednesday, shortly after Theresa May's last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. May will travel to meet the Queen and formally resign in the afternoon, before Johnson makes the same journey to ask to form a government.

When he crosses the threshold into Number 10, he will be met with a bulging in-tray, a rash of resignations and a flimsy working majority of just two seats.

And so will begin another round of drama at the heart of British government.

You can follow our coverage throughout the day on Wednesday -- but for now, we're closing up our live updates and getting out of here, dude.

11:16 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

London Mayor to Boris Johnson: "Let's put aside our differences"

Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson's successor as Mayor of London, has called on the incoming Prime Minister to work together and "put aside" their differences.

But Khan, who backs a second referendum on Brexit, warned Johnson he'll continue to make the case against a no-deal crash out of the EU.

10:53 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

Europe reacts to Boris Johnson's win

Leaders in the European Union have been responding to Johnson's success, and signaling an openness to work with him on Brexit.

Irish Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar tweeted that he is looking forward to sitting down with the incoming UK PM.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator also said he intends to work "constructively" with Johnson -- but hinted yet again that the Withdrawal Agreement the bloc agreed with Theresa May is not open for further discussions.

And Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, said the body's Brexit committee will hold a special meeting to discuss the development. He added that he looks forward to "defending the interest of all Europeans."

10:18 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

Labour organizes election protest on Thursday


The opposition Labour Party has organized a protest outside Parliament on Thursday, urging for a general election to be called.

"Tory incompetence has led to a deadlocked Parliament, a deeply divided country, and a government led by a man decided by just 160,000 Tory members," the party's Facebook event says.

"We need a General Election, and Parliament is where we’ll pile on the pressure. Will you be there?" At the time of writing, just under 1,000 people said they will attend.

Johnson has said he does not intend to call an election before the current Brexit deadline of October 31. But his tiny working majority of two seats could spell trouble down the road -- and he may ultimately be tempted to make the same gamble Theresa May did in 2017 by calling a snap poll.

In an email to members, the Labour Party added: "Today, Boris Johnson became leader of the Conservatives. Tomorrow, he’ll be prime minister. How did our country sink so low?"

"Whether you think he’s a scruffy Etonian buffoon or a cold, calculating liar, what’s clear is his terrifying support of a damaging no-deal Brexit and his stunningly out-of-touch policy of tax cuts for the wealthy. We have to stop him."

10:04 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

Hunt says Johnson will be a "great Prime Minister"

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London 

Hunt (left) and Johnson (right) after the result of the race was announced.
Hunt (left) and Johnson (right) after the result of the race was announced.  STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt, the runner-up in the contest to become the leader of the Conservative Party, believes Boris Johnson will be a good prime minister.

“He will be a great PM. He’s got optimism, enthusiasm, puts a smile on people's faces and he has total unshakable confidence in our amazing country,” said Hunt, who gathered 34% of the votes, in an interview with Sky News.

On Brexit, Hunt, who is UK foreign secretary, rejected the idea of an inevitable no-deal scenario: “The EU does wants to find a deal. If we approach this in the right way, as I am sure that Boris will, then I think there’s every chance that we could do a deal. What is not out for negotiations is the fact of Brexit itself, us leaving the European Union.”

9:03 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

"Dude, where's my Cabinet" - the internet reacts to Johnson's speech

Boris Johnson's victory speech featured one line that has predictably attracted the attention of many online.

He noted his campaign slogan -- "Deliver, Unite, Defeat" -- had an unfortunate acronym, so he added an 'E' at the end for "energize."

"Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done!" Johnson said.

Commentators were quick to pounce on the unexpected choice of words.

Some noted that Johnson may soon be asking another question, as several Cabinet ministers plan to resign to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May before she steps down.

Another reminded us of one of Johnson's infamous pledges during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The Labour Party also responded with a critique, writing: "We couldn’t agree more, Boris Johnson is certainly a dude… Defender of bankers and his super-rich cronies, Untrustworthy, Dangerously incompetent, Elite and out of touch."

9:02 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

Stanley Johnson is proud of his son, but warns him not to be "too slavish" to Trump

Stanley Johnson, the father of incoming prime minister Boris, has told CNN he thinks his son will get along with US President Donald Trump -- but warned that the relationship cannot be subservient.

"They have the same hairstyle," he told CNN's Bianca Nobilo in a lively interview outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster. "I think they will get on.” He added: "We’re going have to be careful not to be too slavishly geared toward America," and insisted that "building bridges" with Europe after Brexit will also be crucial.

He also shared some more foreign policy advice for his son, saying that he would go to Brazil and ask its President Jair Bolsonaro, "what on Earth are you doing trashing these rainforests?"

On domestic issues, Stanley praised his son's "ambition" and said he isn't as divisive a leader as many believe -- noting that he won two elections as London mayor. But he added Johnson's premiership "will definitely be defined" by how he handles the country's Brexit crisis.

"I don’t think ambition is such a bad idea," Stanley Johnson said. "My line would be, are you going to use this ambition for something useful?"

"I’m rather sorry there’s not going to be an inauguration,” he added, but admitted he was "totally proud" of his son's victory. He said that he won't "count any chickens before they hatch," and joked that his son's car could crash into a bollard before he officially becomes prime minister tomorrow.

Stanley also said he would not be present for his son's first days in Downing Street, because he will shortly travel to Western Australia to swim with whale sharks.

8:12 a.m. ET, July 23, 2019

Johnson critics in parliament react with dismay

Boris Johnson's victory is being met with every emotion possible in Westminster -- as you'd expect for one of Britain's most divisive politicians.

Former Conservative backbencher Nick Boles, who quit the party this year in protest over its Brexit stance, has threatened to oppose Johnson "at every turn" if he pursues a no-deal Brexit.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has said the result, voted on by Conservative party members, "is not democracy."

And Labour MP Mary Creagh asked a question that many Johnson critics will also be wondering...