Boris Johnson has entered 10 Downing Street as the United Kingdom‘s new Prime Minister following his election as the leader of the ruling Conservative Party. The 55-year-old assumed the role yesterday (24 July), just over three months before he has to make good on his promise to complete the process known as Brexit – to lead the UK out of the European Union – by 31 October with or without a withdrawal agreement. He will also be faced with the challenge of winning over the many Britons who oppose Brexit. In his victory speech on Tuesday, Johnson vowed to deliver Brexit and unite the country. The former foreign secretary has thus replaced Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month after UK parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the EU.
The 28-nation bloc immediately shot down Johnson‘s Brexit plan shortly after his appointment as Conservative party leader, in the latest sign that the bloc has no plans to make concessions, with Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s first Vice President, stressing that the EU would not renegotiate. “He took a long time deciding whether he was for or against Brexit and now his position is clear. I think the position of the EU is also clear: the United Kingdom reached an agreement with the European Union and the European Union will stick with that agreement,” Timmermans said while the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier added that “we look forward to working constructively with Boris Johnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit.”
Criticising Johnson and his “cheap promises”, another EU Commissioner of Lithuania, Vytenis Andriukaitis, also warned that politicians like Johnson were undermining democracy with “cheap promises, simplified visions, blatantly evident incorrect statements”. Brussels has made clear since last year that the EU would not re-open talks on the Withdrawal Agreement struck by Theresa May. More blunt comments on the election of the colorful Johnson came from several MEPs, including Richard Corbett, a Socialist deputy: “What to say about Boris Johnson as PM? Maybe take a segment of the alphabet JKLMNOP standing for: Johnson the King of Liars, My New Odious Prime Minister”.