Green Party Co-leader Sian Berry issued a rallying cry to those dismayed at the announcement that Conservative Boris Johnson will be country’s next Prime Minister, urging people to “channel the frustration” into fighting Brexit, demanding political change and tackling the climate emergency.
Berry was reacting to the expected news that Boris Johnson has today (23 July) been announced as the new leader of the UK Conservative Party and therefore the country’s new Prime Minister.
Johnson won the final round of the Tory leadership contest in a ballot of party members with 92,153 votes (66 per cent), almost double opponent Jeremy Hunt’s 46,656 votes, after the two candidates had been whittled down from 10 over a series of five MPs’ ballots.
After the news was announced, Johnson took to Twitter to say: “The time for campaigning is over and the time for work begins to unite our country and party, deliver Brexit and defeat Corbyn.”
Johnson has made it clear that he intends for the UK to leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal, and has not ruled out proroguing (suspending) Parliament before then to force through a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
It remains difficult to see how Johnson could force through ‘no deal’ in the current Parliament with the Conservatives’ wafer-thin working majority, and a general election has been touted as one way to break the deadlock, while calls for a People’s Vote on Brexit are likely to reach a crescendo in the coming weeks.
Greens Co-leader Berry was quick to acknowledge the dismay felt by many across the country – a snap poll by YouGov found that 47 per cent of those polled were dismayed or disappointed with Boris Johnson becoming leader of the Conservative Party – stating: “We have Boris Johnson as our incoming Prime Minister, the second in a row chosen only by the members of the Conservative Party [Theresa May won the Tory leadership in 2016 without going to a poll of party members after Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race].
“I know many people today will be deeply worried and incredibly frustrated at the failures of our antiquated, undemocratic political system that have led us to this point.”
Frustration has equally been clear within the ranks of Johnson’s own party, with many Conservative MPs having criticised the approach to Brexit pursued by the Prime Minister-elect. Several Tory MPs have resigned from their Cabinet positions in response, including leadership hopeful and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, Education Minister Anne Milton, Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Margot James, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said he would hand in his resignation on Wednesday if Johnson became leader, but has tweeted today that the new PM has his “wholehearted support” in attempting to do a deal with Brussels.
Johnson has also received backing from an unsurprising source, with US President Donald Trump taking to Twitter to congratulate him on his election, saying that he would make a “great” Prime Minister.
Despite the dismay with which Johnson’s election has been met, Sian Berry was keen to stress that Johnson’s instatement as Prime Minister should serve as a call to action: “If we channel that frustration into a renewed focus on our determination to stop Brexit, our work listening and acting on the concerns of citizens across the country who have been damaged and sidelined by austerity, and our demands for action on the climate emergency, we can renew the UK.
"Boris Johnson is at the political extreme, a great distance from what the majority of British people want. That position is going to produce a strong reaction, a greatly strengthened demand for political change.
“The Green Party vision is one that delivers a secure, stable life for people in every area and in every walk of life, within the physical limits of this one fragile planet.
“Don’t despair; channel the frustration and join the Green Party today. Don't let politics be something that is done to you, make politics what you do to make things better."