Boris Johnson To Become U.K. Prime Minister After Winning Party Leadership Race

Boris Johnson is set to become the United Kingdom’s new prime minister this week after winning the Conservative Party’s leadership contest on Tuesday.

The 55-year-old, who helped lead the successful 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, is set to take over from Theresa May on Wednesday afternoon.

His victory over rival Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary, was never really in doubt, given his popularity with the roughly 160,000 party members who voted in the contest. Johnson won 66% of the vote, with a turnout of 87.4%.

Speaking after his victory was announced, Johnson told supporters he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn.”

“I say to all the doubters, ‘Dude, we are going to energize the country,’” he added.

With Parliament deadlocked over Brexit, Johnson has promised to take the U.K. out of the European Union by Oct. 31 “do or die,” even if it means leaving without an agreement.

But many senior Conservatives have vowed to oppose a no-deal Brexit, warning that it will cause irreparable damage to the U.K.’s economy.

Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer who has said he will resign rather than serve under Johnson, suggested that he would vote to bring down the government in order to prevent leaving without a deal.

Several other Conservative ministers are expected to quit today before Johnson is handed the keys to No. 10 Downing Street.

Johnson will have to govern with a parliamentary majority of just two. And this could be further reduced next week if, as expected, the Conservative party loses a by-election.

Nigel Evans, a senior Conservative backbench MP, told the BBC last night that Johnson would assume office “with at least half a dozen knives already in his back.”

Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, has also promised to fight no-deal, and has demanded that Johnson call a general election.

May became prime minister in July 2016, weeks after the Brexit referendum. She announced her resignation in May, after Parliament thrice rejected the Brexit deal she reached with European Union leaders.

On Wednesday, May will take part in one final session of prime minister’s questions, before making a statement outside Downing Street and heading to Buckingham Palace to formally resign.

Johnson will make his own visit to see the queen to take over as prime minister. He will then travel to No. 10 Downing Street ,where he is to deliver a speech before assembling his new cabinet.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly praised Johnson and told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday that Johnson would do “a great job” as British prime minister.

“He’s a different kind of a guy but they say I’m a different kind of a guy too,” Trump said.

The president went on to criticize May, saying she had done a “very bad job with Brexit.”

Trump tweeted his congratulations on Tuesday morning.  

Despite the historic “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K., the diplomatic mood between the two countries has soured in recent weeks. After Trump’s lavish state visit to England in June, memos critical of Trump sent by British ambassador Sir Kim Darroch were leaked to a tabloid. Darroch resigned over the matter in July.

Meanwhile, tensions have also increased between London and Tehran in recent days after a British-flagged tanker was seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

This article has been updated to include vote details and comments.