Boris Johnson elected Conservative leader by landslide margin

Johnson defeated Jeremy Hunt with 66.4 per cent of the vote and will become prime minister tomorrow. 


Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Boris Johnson has been elected Conservative leader after defeating Jeremy Hunt by a landslide margin. Johnson won 92,153 votes (66.4 per cent) to Hunt's 46,656 (33.6 per cent). Turnout was 87.4 per cent among the Tory party’s 159,320 members.

Johnson will become prime minister tomorrow after Theresa May holds her final Prime Minister’s Questions and meets the Queen at Buckingham Palace to formally tender her resignation and recommend that Johnson form a government. The new Conservative leader is expected to spend today finalising planned appointments to his first cabinet. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, and Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary, have pledged to resign in advance in opposition to Johnson’s Brexit policy. 

Johnson, the first prime minister to be directly elected by a party membership, inherits a working parliamentary majority of just two seats. If, as expected, the Conservatives lose the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election to the Liberal Democrats on 1 August, this will be reduced to just one seat. 

A request by former Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan to hold an emergency debate to test whether Johnson could command the confidence of the House of Commons was yesterday rejected by the Speaker, John Bercow. But Tory MPs, including former attorney general Dominic Grieve and Stephen Hammond, have warned that they are prepared to back a motion of no confidence in the government in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Johnson has vowed that the UK will leave the EU by 31 October “do or die”.

As well as holding the smallest working majority of any prime minister since John Major led a minority government from December 1996 to May 1997, Johnson will have the smallest constituency majority (5,034 votes) of any prime minister since Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald in 1924.