Boris Johnson insisted he can ‘deliver Brexit and unite the country’ today after the Tories installed him as their new leader.
The front runner will become PM tomorrow after being declared the winner of the bruising battle against Jeremy Hunt in a dramatic ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II center in Westminster.
Family members including father Stanley, sister Rachel, and brother Jo were among those in the audience to hear the news that he had secured a landslide 66 percent of the 140,000 votes from activists. However, there was no sign of girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
The announcement was immediately hailed by US President Donald Trump, who said Mr Johnson would do a ‘great job’. But EU negotiator Michel Barnier indicated that while he wanted to ‘work constructively’ with the new PM the Withdrawal Agreement was not up for grabs.
In his victory speech, Mr Johnson – whose ambition as a boy was to be ‘World King’ – paid tribute to Mr Hunt, and thanked Theresa May for her ‘extraordinary’ service to the country.
He said the party now had to reconcile the need for a close relationship with Europe to the desire for ‘democratic self-government’.
Mr Johnson said he would ‘deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn’. He joked that the acronym for his ‘deliver, unite and defeat’ goals was ‘DUD’. But he insisted he was going to add an ‘E’ to make ‘DUDE’.
‘Dude, we are going to energise the country,’ he said to laughter. ‘Like some slumbering giant we are going to arise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt.’
However, Mr Johnson is also facing a potentially catastrophic Tory mutiny as MPs mobilise against his ‘do or die’ vow to secure Brexit by Halloween – even if it means crashing out without an agreement.
Education minister Anne Milton quit this morning minutes before Mr Johnson’s coronation, saying she had ‘grave concerns’ and could not fall into line with his Brexit policy.
Justice Secretary David Gauke – another of around half-a-dozen ministers who have said they will resign rather than serve under Mr Johnson – issued a stark warning this morning that Parliament will find a way to block No Deal.
After Sir Alan Duncan quit as Foreign Office minister yesterday in an abortive effort to force a confidence vote to block Mr Johnson becoming PM, the leadership front runner embarked on a charm offensive.
He held talks with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Mr Gauke last night, but while discussions were ‘friendly’ they did not back down on their opposition to No Deal.
Mr Johnson said critics may ‘question the wisdom of your decision’ after he was announced as the new Tory leader.
He said: ‘No one party, no one person has a monopoly of wisdom but… it is we Conservatives who have had the best insights into human nature and the best insights into how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.
‘Time and again it is to us that the people of this country have turned to get that balance right.’
Sources in Mr Johnson’s camp had predicted he would secure more than 60 per cent of the vote, giving him a ‘free hand’ to sack his enemies and steer the Tories on a new course.
A source close to Mr Johnson said Cabinet appointments would not be made until Wednesday evening.
He is expected to spend this afternoon finalising the top ministerial team and preparing his speech for Wednesday.
Mr Johnson will also address the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs at 4pm on Tuesday and visit CCHQ.
Within minutes of the result, Mr Trump – who has previously heaped praise on the former London mayor – had responded on Twitter.
‘Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!,’ the president wrote.
Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka tweeted an apparent typo as she added her congratulations to Mr Johnson for becoming ‘the next Prime Minister of the United Kingston’.
Mr Barnier said he wanted to work with Johnson ‘to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit’.
But in a sign that the legal divorce package will not be reopened, he merely said he was ready to ‘rework’ the non-binding political declaration on future UK-EU ties.
Putting a brave face on his overwhelming defeat, Mr Hunt tweeted: ‘Congratulations Boris Johnson for a campaign well fought.
‘You’ll be a great PM for our country at this critical moment!
‘Throughout campaign you showed optimism, energy and unbounded confidence in our wonderful country and we need that. All best wishes from the entrepreneur.’
Brexit party leader Nigel Farage demanded to know whether Mr Johnson had the ‘courage to deliver’.
‘I wish Boris Johnson well as Prime Minister with his do or die pledge to deliver Brexit on October 31st,’ he said.
‘Does he have the courage to deliver?’
Outgoing PM Mr May delivered a thinly-veiled warning about his uncompromising approach on Brexit, saying MPs must ‘work together’.
Many congratulations to @BorisJohnson on being elected leader of @Conservatives – we now need to work together to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK and to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of government.
‘You will have my full support from the back benches.’
Former Tory MP Heidi Allen, now an independent, tweeted in response to Mr Johnson’s victory: ‘If ever I needed reminding why I left #notmypm.’
Mr Johnson’s share of the vote – 66.4 per cent – was slightly lower than the 67.6 per cent share won by David Cameron in the 2005 leadership election.
Yesterday, Sir Alan – Mr Johnson’s former deputy – dramatically quit as Foreign Office minister in an apparent bid to prevent him becoming PM.
Sir Alan, a long-time critic of Mr Johnson, invoked the Queen as he attempted to force a confidence vote in the Commons today – but the move was ruled out by the Speaker John Bercow.
International development secretary Rory Stewart also informed Mr Johnson yesterday that he would be resigning from the Cabinet before he takes power, following the lead set by Philip Hammond and justice secretary David Gauke.
Mr Stewart indicated he would join the band of Remainer rebels on the Tory backbenches, saying: ‘There is a majority of two, and I have at least three friends.’
Mr Gauke told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he believed there were ‘parliamentary mechanisms’ that could prevent No Deal which would ‘not necessarily’ involve bringing down a Johnson administration.
He stressed that he would not vote against a Tory government in a motion of no confidence if it was heading towards a no-deal Brexit.
But Mr Gauke warned: ‘There is a clear majority in the House of Commons that doesn’t want to leave the EU without a deal; I think that will become very clear in the autumn.’
In all, up to a dozen ministers are expected to jump ship in the next 36 hours before Mr Johnson officially becomes PM tomorrow afternoon.
The PM-elect has already been plotting the first frantic phase of his premiership.
Allies are determined to forge ahead with multi-billion pound promises to cut taxes – even if it means increasing government borrowing.
They say he is determined to ensure his premiership is not only about Brexit.
He could push a new insurance system for social care, boost schools funding and increase the higher tax threshold to £80,000.
During the campaign Mr Johnson made spending pledges that have been calculated at more than £26billion – the estimated headroom Mr Hammond left in the public finances to account for Brexit disruption.
He wants to raise the national Insurance threshold to £12,500 to help low earners, which would cost around £11billion, increase the minimum wage, and cut stamp duty.
But supporters of Mr Johnson told the Telegraph he would press ahead with key policies by borrowing if necessary.
We are talking about a fiscal loosening of less than 1 per cent of total public spending. It would do a lot to get things moving for the middle classes, to get them spending more money,’ one aide said.
A former minister in Mr Johnson’s camp added: ‘In order to honour Boris’s spending pledges, the next budget is going to have to put a temporary freeze on deficit reduction.
‘Of course it is important to continue fixing the roof but there is going to have to be some flexibility there to give the economy the post-Brexit boost that it needs.’
On the eve of what is likely to be a dramatic few days, former prime ministers Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Major warned Mr Johnson that pursuing a No Deal Brexit would end in disaster.
Newly elected Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson also predicted she could become prime minister if Mr Johnson is forced to call a snap election this year.
If Mr Johnson is elected as Tory leader today he will formally become prime minister tomorrow.
Mrs May will take a final session of PMQs in the Commons before travelling to Buckingham palace to inform the Queen of her resignation.
Whitehall sources said that, despite the government’s slender majority, Her Majesty is then expected to send for Mr Johnson.
The former foreign secretary will then begin an immediate Cabinet reshuffle.
Casualties are expected to include Mrs May’s deputy David Lidington, the business secretary Greg Clark and the Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley.
Mr Johnson is then preparing to make a Commons statement setting out his programme for government on Thursday, just hours before MPs break up for the long summer recess.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who is expected to join the Cabinet, last night played down the prospect of a serious mutiny against the new leader by Tory MPs.
He added: ‘I think the number of troublemakers will be relatively few because it will be so obviously self-indulgent.’ But attitudes among Tory MPs opposed to a No Deal Brexit appeared to be hardening last night.
Mr Stewart revealed that he had been invited for talks with Mr Johnson, but had told him he would rather quit his Cabinet job than serve in a Government prepared to contemplate a No Deal Brexit. Earlier, Sir Alan resigned with a warning that Brexit had placed a ‘dark cloud’ over the country.
The minister, who once described Mr Johnson as a ‘circus act’, wrote to Mr Bercow proposing a Commons vote today on Mr Johnson’s acceptability as PM.
He wrote: ‘This is the first time in our parliamentary history that the prime minister of a minority government has changed in mid-term.
‘Thus the normal assumption that the succession is automatic cannot be said to apply, and his ability to command a majority in the House should arguably be tested before the Prime Minister can safely advise the Queen who should succeed her.’
After the proposal was rejected, Sir Alan warned of a ‘constitutional crisis’ in the coming months if Mr Johnson loses a confidence vote after becoming PM.
Another rebel Tory, Philip Lee, said of Mr Johnson: ‘I don’t see how he has got a majority to govern. It’s a very, very fragile situation with only a tiny majority.’
In a series of heavyweight warnings yesterday, three former prime ministers spoke out against the risks of pursuing a no-deal Brexit.
Sir John, a high-profile critic of Mr Johnson, said: ‘The new PM must choose whether to be the spokesman for an ultra-Brexit faction, or the servant of the nation he leads.’
Mr Blair said Mr Johnson had ‘boxed himself in to a No Deal Brexit’, while Mr Brown warned of the danger of inflicting ‘peacetime self-inflicted wounds’.
New Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson will succeed in stealing Tory Remain voters if Boris Johnson tries to force No Deal, a Cabinet minister warned today.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said taking a hard line on Brexit would leave the party ‘significantly out of touch’ with many of its traditional supporters.
Ms Swinson was last night elected as the first ever female leader of the Liberal Democrats after she inflicted a crushing defeat on her challenger Sir Ed Davey.
The 39-year-old mother-of-two succeeded Sir Vince Cable after she secured more than 47,000 votes in the contest with Sir Ed trailing far behind with just over 28,000.
Ms Swinson said her ‘number one priority’ as leader will be ‘stopping Boris and stopping Brexit’ – vowing to target disaffected Tory and Labour supporters.