Boris Johnson will be next U.K. prime minister

LONDON — Boris Johnson, the flamboyant pro-Brexit politician, will become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Johnson was chosen as the leader of the ruling Conservative Party on Tuesday, and will become prime minister on Wednesday. After Prime Minister Theresa May formally resigns, Johnson will go to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon to meet the queen, who will invite him to form the next government.

Johnson is the former mayor of London and resigned as foreign minister a year ago over May's Brexit plans. He was the clear favorite to replace her, with polls putting him ahead by double digits.

He beat his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in an election that only Conservative lawmakers and party members were eligible to participate in. Johnson received 92,153 votes to Hunt's 46,656. Under the U.K.'s parliamentary system, a new prime minister can be appointed without the need for a general election.

"We know that we can do it and that the people of this country are trusting in us to do it," said Johnson, referring to Brexit in a speech at the conference center across from Parliament where the results were announced.

"We are going to unite this amazing country and we are going to take it forward," he said at the end of the speech.

May's decision to resign at the end of May came after months of chaos in Parliament due to Brexit, the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union.

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British Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson gets in a car as he leaves home in south London, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Contenders for leadership in Britain's ruling Conservative Party to become the next Prime Minister, jostled for attention Monday as the race narrowed into a contest to seize the mantle of challenger to front-runner Boris Johnson. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
British Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson leaves home in south London, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Contenders for leadership in Britain's ruling Conservative Party to become the next Prime Minister, jostled for attention Monday as the race narrowed into a contest to seize the mantle of challenger to front-runner Boris Johnson. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is an American-born British journalist and former mayor of London.
Britain's Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson talks during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham, England, Saturday June 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
British Conservative Party leadership and prime minister contender Boris Johnson leaves home in south London, Friday, June 21, 2019. Britain's next leader will be chosen by about 160,000 members of the governing Conservative Party in a runoff between two candidates: former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
British Conservative Party leadership and prime minister contender Boris Johnson gets in a car as he leaves home in south London, Friday, June 21, 2019. Britain's next leader will be chosen by about 160,000 members of the governing Conservative Party in a runoff between two candidates: former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
British Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives for a live TV debate in central London Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Britain's Conservative Party is holding a contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, and party legislators will continue to hold elimination votes until the final two contenders will be put to a vote of Conservative Party members nationwide, with the winner due to become Conservative Party leader and prime minister. (AP Photo/Vudi Xhymshiti)
British Conservative Party lawmaker Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Britain's Conservative Party is holding an election to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who resigned last week after failing to lead Britain out of the European Union on schedule. Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is currently the bookies favorite to replace May. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Britain's Conservative Party lawmaker Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during the official launch of his leadership campaign, in London, Wednesday June 12, 2019. Boris Johnson solidified his front-runner status in the race to become Britain's next prime minister on Tuesday, gaining backing from leading pro-Brexit lawmakers.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Johnson was one of the leading faces of the 2016 campaign for the U.K. to leave E.U., a measure which won a narrow victory in a referendum. May had voted to remain, though she embraced the result of the referendum and spent the majority of her time in office pursuing a withdrawal agreement with E.U.

However, hard-line supporters of leaving were always suspicious of May and three times voted down the deal she secured with the E.U.

Brexit is now by far the biggest item on Johnson's agenda. He has staked his reputation on making it happen on or before the next deadline of Oct. 31. E.U. leaders have said repeatedly that they won't reopen the agreement they made with May's government.

At one leadership campaign event, he promised to leave the E.U. at the end of October "do or die," and has said he would consider leaving without a withdrawal agreement.

This so-called "no-deal" scenario would leave the U.K. with no trade agreement, no customs arrangements and lacking shared standards in multiple areas — although it would allow the country to sign bilateral trade deals unconnected to the E.U.

Economists, business leaders and the British government's own experts have given stark warnings of the damage "no-deal" could do to jobs, investment and trade.

Many lawmakers in Johnson's own party are deeply skeptical about his leadership credentials and several current government ministers have said that they wouldn't serve in leadership positions under Johnson, due to his approach to Brexit.

He's also attracted a hefty dose of negative headlines even before assuming office.

An audio recording of him in a screaming argument with his girlfriend was leaked to the media in June, prompting some awkward questions on the campaign trail.

And he was heavily criticized from across the political spectrum for failing to confirm that he would retain Kim Darroch, the U.K.'s ambassador to the U.S., and the author of leaked diplomatic cables that were highly critical of President Donald Trump. Darroch resigned earlier this month.

Johnson also must govern with the threat of a general election hanging over his head, even though the next election isn't scheduled until 2022. His party holds only a slim majority in Parliament and any loss of support from his own side could mean that he suddenly needs to defend his agenda to the wider public.

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