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Statement by Michelle Egan on New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"Boris Johnson defeated Jeremy Hunt today in the Conservative party leadership contest. Around 92,000 eligible Conservative Party members voted for Johnson which amounts to 0.3% of the electorate in Britain. He is the third out of the last four Prime Ministers to not be selected by a general election contest. He faces several immediate foreign policy challenges including the seizure of a British flagged tanker, the detention of an Iranian British national, and the pending Brexit deadline.

He will now have to form a Cabinet after approval of his appointment as Prime Minister, where he will hold a slim majority. This will likely be further reduced by an upcoming by-election in Brecon, where polls indicate a possible Liberal-Democrat win. He has promised increased expenditure for various needed public services, shifting the party away from its efforts to reduce the deficit, even as the economy contracts in several sectors and the pound has dropped in value.  

He faces opposition in his own party to a no-deal Brexit and the suspension of Parliament, as Parliament has continued to assert its role in the Brexit deliberations. The focus solely on Johnson should not detract from internal issues within the Labor Party, the election of a new leader of the Liberal Democrats, the continued divisions within the country, and the Northern Irish border issue due to his rejection of the current ‘backstop’ deal."  

Michelle Egan is based in DC at American University and is a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center. Please contact Ryan McKenna, ryan.mckenna@wilsoncenter.org, for any follow-up segments/interviews.

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The Global Europe Program addresses vital issues affecting the European continent, U.S.-European relations, and Europe’s ties with the rest of the world. It does this through scholars-in-residence, seminars, policy study groups, media commentary, international conferences and publications. Activities cover a wide range of topics, from the role of NATO, the European Union and the OSCE to European energy security, trade disputes, challenges to democracy, and counter-terrorism. The program investigates European approaches to policy issues of importance to the United States, including globalization, digital transformation, climate, migration, global governance, and relations with Russia and Eurasia, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.  Read more