BORIS Johnson today declared himself “The Dude” as he was named the next Prime Minister after defeating Jeremy Hunt in a landslide.
The new Tory leader will have just 100 days to deliver on his do-or-die promise to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 – after winning twice as many votes as his rival.
In a sharp break from buttoned-up Theresa May, BoJo used his victory speech to make a string of jokes as he pledged to unite the shattered Tory party.
He said: “We know the mantra of the campaign just gone by – deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn and that’s what we’re going to do.
“I know some have already pointed out ‘deliver, unite and defeat’ was not the best slogan because it spells out ‘dud’. But they forgot the final E – for ‘energise’!
“I say to my doubters – DUDE, we’re going to get Brexit done on October 31.”
Boris rode a wave of optimism with his charismatic personality to sweep aside a huge field of challengers and win the support of grassroots Conservative activists.
Mr Johnson won over 66.4 per cent of members’ votes, with Mr Hunt trailing far behind on just 33.6 per cent.
But in a sign of the challenge facing the next PM, David Gauke and Rory Stewart both announced they were leaving the Cabinet and will lead the revolt to block No Deal.
And he will also have to face off the threat from Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party who will leap on any hint of wavering in talks with Brussels – Mr Farage asked today: “Does he have the courage to deliver for the country?”
On a historic day for Britain:
- Jeremy Hunt braced for a demotion when Boris picks his new Cabinet
- The new Chief Whip was confirmed as popular MP Mark Spencer
- BoJo prepared a domestic policy blitz for his first days in No10
- He faces a dilemma over the role of girlfriend Carrie Symonds
- Donald Trump led world leaders in welcoming Boris to his new role
- EU chiefs geared up for a brutal Brexit showdown with the new PM
In his first speech as Tory party leader, Mr Johnson paid tribute to Theresa May’s “extraordinary service to this party and this country”.
He also praised his opponent Mr Hunt, telling him: “You’ve been a font of excellent ideas, all of which I’m going to steal forthwith.”
The free-wheeling address was an early sign of the optimistic approach Boris plans to take in his new job.
He told activists: “I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision. There may even be some people here who still wonder what they have done!”
But mocking critics who say he faces a “daunting set of circumstances”, Mr Johnson blasted: “I look at you this morning and I ask myself, ‘Do you look daunted? Do you feel daunted?’ I don’t think you look remotely daunted to me.
“I think we know that we can do it and that the people of this country are trusting in us to do it and we know that we will do it.”
And he added: “Today at this political moment in our history we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble sets of instincts, between the deep desire of friendship and free trade and mutual support in security and defence between Britain and our European partners and the simultaneous desire, equally deep and heartfelt, for democratic self-government in this country.
“Of course some people would say that they are irreconcilable and it just can’t be done.”
He was joined at the announcement by relatives including dad Stanley, brother Jo and sister Rachel – but his girlfriend Carrie Symonds stayed away.
A source close to the new leader insisted Carrie would move with him to No10 but not immediately.
Remainer Stanley backed his son to deliver Brexit, saying: “We will get rid of this small technical problem of Brexit – we’ll get Brexit done in a flash.”
And asked what advice he would give his son, Mr Johnson Senior told The Sun: “Imagine this is a game of rugger and you’re in the front row and you have to get the ball over the line.”
Theresa May tweeted immediately, wishing him “many congratulations” – and saying she will stay as an MP.
She said: “Many congratulations to @BorisJohnson on being elected leader of @Conservatives – we now need to work together to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK and to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of government. You will have my full support from the back benches.”
Admitting defeat, Mr Hunt tweeted: “Congratulations @BorisJohnson for a campaign wellfought.You) fought. You’ll be a great PM for our country at this critical moment!
“Throughout campaign you showed optimism, energy and unbounded confidence in our wonderful country and we need that.”
He added: “This was always going to be uphill for us because I was someone who voted Remain, we have a Prime Minister who voted Remain and I think a lot of Conservative party members felt that this was a moment when you just had to have someone who voted for Brexit in the referendum.
“I am delighted for the country that Boris has become Prime Minister, I think he’ll be a great Prime Minister.”
Listen to Boris John speak after his victory;