Boris Johnson is the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, the man responsible for steering the country towards its scheduled exit from the European Union on Oct. 31. Not everyone is thrilled.
Shortly before the winner of the Conservative party leadership election was announced, UK education minister Anne Milton resigned, saying she had “grave concerns” over Johnson’s willingness to consider leaving the EU without a deal. Yesterday, foreign office minister Alan Duncan also resigned, calling Brexit a “dark cloud.”
Rory Stewart, secretary of state for international development and unsuccessful candidate for prime minister, announced he would not serve in a Johnson cabinet—neither will finance minister Philip Hammond. Scotland’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has “profound concerns about the prospect of his premiership.”
While the British political scene is rocked by a wave of preemptive resignations and outcry over the former foreign secretary’s election, reactions from world leaders have ranged from slightly positive to neutral to benign, starting with Donald Trump. The US president has long supported Johnson, and tweeted out his congratulations mere minutes after the announcement:
Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2019
He later followed up with more praise for Johnson—”Britain’s Trump”—calling him “tough” and “smart.”
Daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump quickly followed—though her first, and later deleted, attempt congratulated Johnson for becoming prime minister of the “United Kingston”:
Congratulations @BorisJohnson on becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 23, 2019
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, also sent his congratulations. That’s despite the fact that, as member of parliament, Johnson won The Spectator’s 2016 “President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition,” organized in response to the Turkish president’s attempts to prosecute a German comedian for making offensive jokes about him in Germany. A goat may have been involved in Johnson’s winning entry, though it is thankfully absent from Erdogan’s tweet:
Birleşik Krallık'ın 77. Başbakanı olan @BorisJohnson'ı tebrik ediyor, kendisine yeni görevinde başarılar diliyorum.
Bu yeni dönemde Türkiye-Birleşik Krallık ilişkilerinin daha da gelişeceğine inanıyorum.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) July 23, 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said he looked forward to “working closely” with the new PM:
Heartfelt congratulations from Jerusalem, @BorisJohnson. Looking forward to working closely together, both in facing our common challenges and seizing the opportunities ahead. pic.twitter.com/YeIc5qyxcL
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 23, 2019
Other overseas reactions were more tempered. Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit spokesman for the European Parliament, said the Brexit Steering Group would meet to discuss the impact of Johnson’s election:
The @Europarl_EN’s Brexit Steering Group will hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow with @michelBarnier to respond to @BorisJohnson's election. The meeting will be followed by an official communication. Looking forward to defending the interest of all Europeans. #Brexit
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) July 23, 2019
Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Brexit negotiator, struck a neutral tone:
We look forward to working constructively w/ PM @BorisJohnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit. We are ready also to rework the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO guidelines.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) July 23, 2019
French president Emmanuel Macron has yet to offer Johnson his congratulations, though he did apparently praise outgoing UK prime minister Theresa May in front of a group of reporters in France instead:
Macron offers a veiled warning to Boris Johnson: 'I want to thank Theresa May for the good work we've done together in recent years.
'She showed a lot of courage and dignity while working with us. She never blocked the functioning of the EU and she tried to serve UK interests.'
— Joe Barnes (@Barnes_Joe) July 23, 2019
And Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, offered his congratulations to Johnson in the context of deteriorating UK-Iran relations over tensions in the Strait of Hormuz. His message to the incoming prime minister was clear: “These are our waters and we will protect them.”
The May govt's seizure of Iranian oil at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple.
I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM.
Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline.These are our waters & we will protect them pic.twitter.com/svEqmEHQBM
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 23, 2019
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