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Boris Johnson wins Conservative leadership race


Boris Johnson has won the battle to become the next leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister.

The result saw Mr Johnson defeat his rival, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt by a margin of 45,497.

The result

Boris Johnson: 92,153

Jeremy Hunt: 46,656

The announcement follows a month-long campaign across the country, with both candidates taking part in a series of hustings meetings organised by the party.

Jeremy Hunt at the hustings in Maidstone. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Jeremy Hunt at the hustings in Maidstone. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Mr Johnson takes over against a backdrop that suggests there remains deep divisions in the party over Brexit with several ministerial resignations ahead of him taking office.

The new Prime Minister will formally take office on Wednesday with the out-going PM Theresa May heading to Buckingham Palace to submit her formal resignation.

The result led to calls from Kent Conservative officials for the Parliamentary party to swing behind the new leader - reflecting concerns that there remain splits over Brexit.

Cllr Mike Whiting (Conservative) for Teynham and Lynsted. Picture: Swale council (14172566)
Cllr Mike Whiting (Conservative) for Teynham and Lynsted. Picture: Swale council (14172566)

Mike Whiting, chairman of Kent and Medway Conservatives, said:

"The scale of Boris's victory will I hope ensure the party, particularly the parliamentary party, gets behind him in the difficult decisions that lay ahead and that we can put Brexit done us and get on with the exciting agenda he referred to during his first speech as party leader, with more investment in education, the police and broadband, and new trade deals across the world."

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay declared that under Boris Johnson, the "future is bright." An early supporter of the new PM, he said:

“Boris brings flair, a clear Brexit message, new ideas and appeal across the electorate that no other candidate, however competent and decent, could reach. His primary task over the next few months is to give a positive and resolute lead on Brexit and keep his promise to leave the EU on 31st October, no ifs, no buts, no equivocation – with or without signing an acceptable Withdrawal Agreement."

Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (14173744)
Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (14173744)

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said she hoped Mr Johnson would take on some of the policy ideas that Matt Hancock - who she backed in the contest:

"It's clear we need to deliver Brexit by October 31. Boris believes he can do that and so do I. Matt recognised he had a huge mountain to climb given his stance on Brexit, but during the leadership campaign he came out with some interesting policy proposals which Boris will hopefully develop."

Speaking before the declaration, Ashford MP Damian Green said it was a "sad fact" that "literally every Conservative leader in my lifetime has been brought down by the European issue and I desperately hope that Theresa will be the last."

Fellow Kent MP Sir Michael Fallon said the new PM would have to focus on bringing the party together after a period when it had been deeply split.

Boris Johnson. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wir
Boris Johnson. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wir

He said the party had to be single-minded about "getting Brexit done" by the deadline of October 31 and then moving on to address other key issues.

But while Mr Johnson secured the backing of most of the county's MPs, the Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark is likely to be out of government and be replaced as business secretary.

He backed Jeremy Hunt and was among four ministers who abstained on a key vote not to suspend Parliament as a way of getting Brexit through.

What does Boris' win mean for Kent?

Reacting to the leadership result, Paul Cooper, vice-chairman of the Faversham and Mid Kent Conservative Association, said: "This is a clear mandate for Johnson winning almost twice as many votes as Hunt.

"Not quite as high as the polling suggested in Kent, but nonetheless a good result.

"This gives a clear mandate to Boris and hopefully those remoaners within the Parliamentary party will remember this before causing trouble."

Meanwhile, the Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti was quick to offer his congratulations:

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