Britain appears to have set itself on a Brexit collision course with the European Union following the election to Prime Minister of the controversial former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Johnson has vowed to take the U.K. out of the EU by Oct. 31 with or without a trade deal with 28-member trade bloc. There are fears such a strategy could cause long-term harm to Britain’s economy.
While critics argue he’s low on detail he fuels supporters with high octane optimism.
“We’re going to get Brexit done on October 31st and we’re going to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a spirit of ‘can do’ and we are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve and like some slumbering giant we’re going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity,” Johnson said.
US President Donald Trump is a believer, Tweeting his congratulations to Johnson and adding ‘he will be great.’
Johnson saw off his rival U.K. foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt by a comfortable margin, winning twice as many votes from the Party’s 160,000 members.
“Boris Johnson is elected,” declared Election Returning Officer Cheryl Gillan.
Currently, leadership of the ruling Conservatives also gives Johnson the keys to No.10 Downing Street and the job of U.K. Prime Minister.
But he faces daunting challenges not least in Europe where optimism could come up against the harsh reality of the EU’s position on Brexit.
“The United Kingdom reached an agreement with the European Union and the European Union will stick to that agreement.” said EU Commission 1st Vice President, Frans Timmermans.
The ultra-thin majority in Parliament for Johnson’s Party also ensures pulling off a ‘no deal’ Brexit would prove virtually impossible.
So, Johnson can celebrate success for now but the UK’s next Prime Minister faces daunting challenges – a divided country and Parliament and apparently limited options for a way out of the Brexit crisis.
Johnson now has the luxury of selecting a Brexit government in his own image but then fewer than 100 days before deadlines start calling and he’s required to couple his Brexit optimism with some detail of how he’ll achieve his goals.