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Tough tasks ahead for UK’s new PM

Opinion Piece

Boris Johnson has achieved a lifetime goal with his victory in the poll that makes him leader of the Conservative Party and with that the UK’s new prime minister. The question, though, is whether that will become a poisoned chalice.

The new leader has just 100 days left to sort out Brexit, the highly controversial split from Europe which threatens to wreak havoc with the UK economy if it is not handled well. The European Union greeted Johnson’s election with a statement that it is not prepared to negotiate any further, putting him in the same situation that forced his predecessor, Theresa May, to step down.

Some will say that is natural justice as Johnson did everything he could to undermine her efforts for a smooth exit. Other commentators say it is only fair that Johnson should clean up his own mess.

Johnson is a great admirer of Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, but there is a feeling he faces the biggest challenge for an incoming prime minister since Churchill came to power in the dark days of 1940.

One thing the Brits, and the rest of the world, can be sure of is that Johnson will never be boring. His signature floppy hair and genial, Wodehouse-like manner endear him to many Conservative Party members, 66 percent of whom voted for him over rival Jeremy Hunt.

They will never be short of good quotes. Johnson said his chances of election were about the same as Elvis being found on the moon and his three goals were delivering Brexit, uniting the UK and defeating Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. He quickly added “energy” to make the acronym read DUDE instead of DUD.

Johnson has been described as Britain’s Donald Trump, and Trump has showered praise on him, which is alarming to say the least. But Johnson is no Trump. He is an educated man who has written a book on his idol, Churchill.

Still, with ministers departing because they will not work with him, two crucial by-elections next week and a razor-thin majority, Johnson is really being challenged.