Britain’s Brexit man, Boris Johnson, to be next prime minister

Jeremy Hunt, left, congratulates Boris Johnson after the announcement of the result in the ballot for the new Conservative party leader on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/Associated Press

By UM News

Jeremy Hunt, left, congratulates Boris Johnson after the announcement of the result in the ballot for the new Conservative party leader on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/Associated Press

Britain’s Brexit man, Boris Johnson, to be next prime minister

By UM News
The new leader of the Conservative Party has vowed to tackle Brexit and make it happen sooner rather than later.

Boris Johnson, who waltzed to victory Tuesday over the current foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to lead the Conservative Party, will take up residence at 10 Downing St. in London this week and try to solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle that is Brexit. 

Described by The Washington Post as a “bombastic, Latin-quoting, Oxford classicist with a mop of intentionally mussed yellow hair,” Johnson is the former mayor of London who pushed for Britain’s exit from the European Union back in 2016. 

Johnson is popular in some circles, but not trusted by others. Opponents view him as not representative of the entire country. 

John Quelch, dean of the University of Miami Business School, met Johnson at the British Consulate in Boston in 2017 when Johnson was foreign secretary. Quelch, who was there to discuss U.S.-U.K. trade and investment with Johnson, recalled him as having “a whirlwind of energy and bonhomie.”

Quelch, who was awarded the rank of Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 2011, offers his insight into Johnson’s election as prime minister. 

What is the role of the prime minister in Great Britain, and is there a comparison role in the U.S. government? 

The British prime minister is both the leader of the government, officially appointed by the monarch, and the leader of the governing party. The power of the prime minister depends directly on maintaining a working majority of the elected members of parliament. Except in the event of successful impeachment trial, the American president continues in office regardless of the majority opinion of Senate and House members. 

Does the prime minister interact with the monarchy, and to what degree? 

The prime minister is appointed by the monarch and meets regularly with the Queen to discuss in confidence matters of state. Queen Elizabeth may offer advice in private but never comments in public on political issues. 

How will Johnson “deliver Brexit,” as he has promised, when his predecessor has found it so difficult to achieve? 

Leading European politicians are understandably fed up with Britain but recognize, nevertheless, that Brexit will be a loss for the European Union. Johnson has more readily embraced the possibility of a no deal Brexit than May, so may have more bargaining power to tweak the terms of the deal currently on the table. He also has more credibility than May with President Trump so may secure some behind the scenes American support to secure better terms. 

How will Johnson and Trump get along? In some ways, they seem cut from the same cloth. 

Unless they start competing over who has the better head of hair, they look like they’ll get along. But nothing can beat the mutual respect of Thatcher and Reagan and how important that was to the strength of the special relationship during those years. 

Do you expect England to reject Johnson, with a general election being scheduled in the near future? 

Johnson has a history of entertaining gaffes, especially when out of office. When given a position of responsibility, as when Mayor of London, he has done well. He is very bright, a skilled lifelong politician and a good orator. Now that his personal ambition has been achieved, I hope he’ll be able to grow into the role of statesman. Britain, and Europe, certainly needs new leaders, especially with Chancellor Merkel stepping down. I would expect Johnson to beat the left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the next general election.