Boris Johnson has won a final Tory leadership runoff, defeating his opponent Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt with the support of more than two in three of the Conservative Party membership.
The Etonian class clown with a reputation for jingoism, bigotry and humbug anecdotes is expected to take over as British Prime Minister tomorrow, pledging to unite his fractious party and “deliver Brexit” by the latest deadline of October 31.
There has been a muted reaction in Ireland to his election, which was never in doubt. The DUP leader Arlene Foster offered her congratulations and said she looked forward to discussing with Mr Johnson the “shared objectives of strengthening the union, delivering Brexit and restoring devolution”.
The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the election of Mr Johnson was a “worrying step toward a hard no-deal Brexit and a hard border in Ireland”.
“Johnson has coasted into Downing Street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster. It won’t be long until he crashes into the rocky reality that the European Union will not sacrifice the interests of Ireland to appease a man who has lied and slandered its institutions in an effort to secure power,” he said.
Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney offered his congratulations to Mr Johnson in a tweet, saying that the Dublin government would “work constructively” with him and London “to maintain and strengthen British/Irish relations through the challenges of Brexit.”
Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson warned that the “ship is sinking” and yet the Tories had decided to appoint “a new Brexiteer captain”. Johnson is duty bound to uphold the 1998 peace deal in the North of Ireland, she said.
“When Boris is appointed British Prime Minister tomorrow, he will become the leader of a government that is the co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, bound by law to safeguard it and ensure its full implementation.
“A no-deal Brexit is fundamentally incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement. Any British Prime Minister who fails to acknowledge this is wilfully ignoring their international obligations. This is the definition of a rogue state, which cannot be trusted to act in good faith in any trade negotiations anywhere in the world.”
She said the deal forged between the EU and Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, must also be respected.
“The Withdrawal Agreement remains the bottom line to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to ensure there is no physical infrastructure on the British border partitioning Ireland,” she said.
“Instead the people of Ireland will be subjected to Boris and his conspiring cohorts of little Englanders and the DUP.
“We have another way out of this mess that ensures all of Ireland, north and south, remains in the EU. We know the way to get there, its clearly outlined in the Good Friday Agreement.
“Nationalists and republicans are already having inclusive and respectful conversations about the form and shape of the new Ireland. So join that conversation agus le cheilé bainfimid amach Éire aontaithe (and together we will achieve Irish Unity).”