Boris Johnson appointed UK’s new prime minister

Boris Johnson has been appointed as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom after Theresa May stood down over her failure to lead Britain out of the European Union.

Johnson, 55, was appointed to the premiership by Queen Elizabeth II in a formal meeting at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. He was expected to begin announcing his cabinet ministers later on Wednesday.

His elevation to the UK’s highest political office was a formality after being announced on Tuesday as the winner of an internal ruling Conservative Party leadership contest.

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During his campaign, Johnson pledged to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement brokered during months of arduous negotiations between May and EU leaders or leave the bloc on the UK’s scheduled departure date of October 31 without a deal. 

The withdrawal agreement has already been rejected three times by the UK’s parliament, prompting May’s to announce her resignation in May amid a political impasse. 

We will do a new deal, a better deal, that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe based on free trade and mutual support,” Johnson, a former foreign secretary and mayor of London, said on Wednesday.

The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts, because we are going to restore trust in our democracy, and we are going to fulfill the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts,” he added in a speech outside 10 Downing Street, the UK PM’s official residence.

Nearly 52 percent of Britons – more than 17 million people – voted to leave the EU during a divisive referendum held in June 2016. Turnout for the poll was more than 72 percent. 

‘Challenging times ahead’

Despite Johnson’s pledges to change the terms of Brexit, EU leaders have repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the withdrawal agreement.

Reiterating the bloc’s position on Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group (BSG) said in a statement that the comments made by Johnson during his campaign to lead the Conservative Party “have greatly increased the risk of a disorderly exit of the UK”.

The group added that a no-deal exit would be “economically very damaging, even if such damage would not be inflicted equally on both parties”.

The cautionary note came after the EU‘s pick for the bloc’s top job on Tuesday warned Johnson of “challenging times ahead”.

Ursula von der Leyen, the German conservative set to take over at the helm of the European Commission from November, also said that all parties had a “duty to deliver something which is good for people in Europe and the United Kingdom”.

Johnson wants to scrap the so-called “Irish backstop”, an insurance policy written into the Brexit withdrawal deal to maintain an open border for economic and security reasons between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a constituent of the UK, until a new British-EU trade deal is reached.

Those in favour of Brexit fear the backstop could trap Britain in EU trading rules indefinitely and prevent the UK from striking trade deals with countries around the world, given that a new trade accord with the bloc could take years to negotiate.

“I am convinced we can do a deal, without checks at the Irish border, because we refuse under any circumstances to have such checks and yet without that anti-democratic backstop,” Johnson said on Wednesday.

“I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see; never mind the backstop, the buck stops here,” he added. “The British people have had enough of waiting, the time has come to act, to take decisions … to change this country for the better.”

Read the full article at: aljazeera.com