Sunday 18 August 2019

Boris Johnson has become UK Prime Minister after accepting an invitation from queen to form a new government

  • Theresa May said she wanted a Brexit 'that works for the whole United Kingdom'
  • Former UK Prime Minister will continue with her duties from the back benches
  • EU politicians dealing with Brexit predict 'increased risk of a disorderly British exit'
Theresa May, next to her husband Philip, delivers a speech on her last day in office as Britain's Prime Minister, outside Downing Street, in London, Britain July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Theresa May, next to her husband Philip, delivers a speech on her last day in office as Britain's Prime Minister, outside Downing Street, in London, Britain July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Britain's Queen Elizabeth welcomes newly-elected leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Photo credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London, Britain July 24, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS
British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London, Britain July 24, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS?
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks as British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London. Reuters TV via REUTERS
UK Prime Minister Theresa May during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire
UK Prime Minister Theresa May leans on the Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

THERESA MAY said she wanted a Brexit "that works for the whole United Kingdom" as she delivered her farewell speech outside Number 10 Downing Street in London this afternoon.

She has since travelled to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation as UK prime minister to her Queen.

Earlier, speaking outside Number 10 with her husband Philip, she said: "I repeat my warm congratulations to Boris on winning the Conservative leadership election.

"I wish him and the government he will lead every good fortune in the months and years ahead.

"Their successes will be our country's successes and I hope that they will be many."

In her final speech in Downing Street, Mrs May said she hoped that young girls seeing a female prime minister would realise "there are no limits to what you can achieve".

Mrs May said the economy had been restored, public services reformed and values defended on the world stage during her time in office.

"Of course much remains to be done. The immediate priority being to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom."

Mrs May said the "immediate priority" was to deliver Brexit for benefit of the nation and to move the UK away from the "current impasse".

"The immediate priority being to complete our exit from the European Union in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom," she said.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks as British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks as British Prime Minister Theresa May takes questions in Parliament on her last day in office as Prime Minister in London. Reuters TV via REUTERS

"With success in that task can come a new beginning for our country, a national renewal that can move us beyond the current impasse into the bright future the British people deserve.

"To serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the greatest honour. The heavy responsibilities are outweighed by the huge potential to serve your country. But you achieve nothing alone."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire
UK Prime Minister Theresa May during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire

She thanked staff and colleagues in Parliament, as well as service personnel and public servants across the nation.

"All are inspired by the noble wish to serve their country in the national interest," she said.

Mrs May had earlier faced her final Prime Minister's Questions as the UK leader.

She says she will continue with her duties from the back benches.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May leans on the Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire
UK Prime Minister Theresa May leans on the Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. House of Commons/PA Wire

Tributes were paid to the outgoing UK Prime Minister, as EU politicians predicted an "increased risk of a disorderly British exit from the bloc after Boris Johnson becomes prime minister".

Labour MP Ruth Cadbury paid tribute to Mrs May in the House of Commons, but asked how she felt about "handing over to a man who, among many things, is happy to demonise Muslims, is prepared to chuck our loyal public servants and diplomats under a bus, and promises to sell our country out to Donald Trump and his friends."

Mrs May said: "I am pleased to hand over to an incoming leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister who I worked with when he was in my Cabinet, and who is committed as a Conservative who stood on a Conservative manifesto in 2017 to delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016 and to delivering a bright future for this country."

Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster after winning the Tory leadership ballot (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson arrives at Conservative party HQ in Westminster after winning the Tory leadership ballot (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Today marks the final day in office for the Prime Minister and I pay tribute to her sense of public duty - public service should always be recognised.

"Being an MP, minister or indeed a prime minister is an honour that brings with it huge responsibility and huge pressures both personally and, I'm sure the Prime Minister and the whole House will agree, on those very closest to us, who often are not able to answer back for the criticisms made against them.

"So I hope she has a marginally more relaxing time on the backbenches and perhaps, like the Chancellor, even helping me to oppose the reckless plans of her successor."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a previous meeting.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a previous meeting.

As MPs laughed, Mr Corbyn noted the Tories were in "such good heart", adding: "For tomorrow they won't be."

He then highlighted increases in poverty, violent crime, NHS waiting times, school class sizes in the last three years, among other things.

Disorderly

Meanwhile, the European Union politicians dealing with Brexit said on Wednesday there was an increased risk of a disorderly British exit from the bloc after Boris Johnson becomes prime minister.

Johnson, the face of the "Leave" campaign in Britain's 2016 EU membership referendum, will become prime minister today, succeeding Theresa May, after he campaigned for the leadership of his Conservative Party promising to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal with the EU.

The bloc has congratulated Johnson on his victory but was firm that it would not offer Britain better departure terms.

The message was reiterated on Wednesday by a group of EU politicians dealing with Brexit.

"The (group) notes that recent statements, not least those made during the Conservative Party leadership campaign, have greatly increased the risk of a disorderly exit of the UK," it said in a statement.

"A no-deal exit would be economically very damaging, even if such damage would not be inflicted equally on both parties."

The European Parliament must endorse any EU-UK Brexit deal and has said the bloc is ready to amend a declaration on their future ties, which accompanies the legally-binding divorce agreement.

Johnson wants changes to the divorce deal, notably removing the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy that could tie the UK to some of the EU's trading rules after Brexit to avoid deploying extensive checks on the Irish border.

Brexit backers fear that would make it hard for Britain to strike independent trade deals around the world.

"An orderly exit is only possible if citizens' rights, the financial settlement and the backstop, that in all circumstances ensures no hardening of the border on the Island of Ireland... are guaranteed," the European Parliament's Brexit group said.

"The Withdrawal Agreement ... cannot be reopened."

May agreed to the deal with the EU last November but the British parliament has since voted it down three times.

The bloc is preparing for a no-deal exit or another delay to Britain's departure date.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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