Boris Johnson elected new Conservative leader : Sunderland reacts

Political experts and politicians in Sunderland have given their reaction to the news Boris Johnson is in line to become the next PM after winning the Conservative Party leadership contest.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019, 12:42

Mr Johnson received 92,153 votes from members of the Conservative Party, seeing off rival Jeremy Hunt, and is in line to officially become PM on Wednesday, July 24.

Hers is what Sunderland has said about the news…

Boris Johnson speaks at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London after being announced as the new Conservative party leader and next Prime Minister. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 23, 2019.

Dr Kevin Yuill, Associate Professor at the University of Sunderland and a Brexiteer:

“The real issue will be - what does Boris do when in office? He has promised that the UK will leave the EU, fulfilling the wishes of the majority of the UK and an even larger majority of those from the North East.

“But his working majority, after the defection of two of his cabinet, is in trouble. More might decant if no deal - which is looking increasingly likely - comes up.

“He could call a general election to strengthen his majority against a very weak Corbyn, but that is a big gamble that the Conservative Party can fend off a combination of a resurgent Liberal-Democrat Party and the remnants of Labour.

“He can make an electoral pact with the Brexit Party but that means destroying and demoralising local Tory parties in Labour areas.

“My guess is that he does call a general election before October 31 but not before preparations for a no-deal Brexit are sorted. Probably early October. Then, armed with a majority, he will wield more authority with Europe.

“However, there is a good possibility that Brexit will be pushed even further back, if Boris thinks that he can consolidate power by doing so.

“All in all, confusing times for pundits."

Dr Peter Hayes, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sunderland:

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“Mr Johnson has become Prime Minister by promising—and embodying—optimism. Johnson’s optimism connotes a practical, can-do attitude, and this has struck a responsive chord with a public that feels constrained by excessive regulation and an increasingly powerful bureaucracy.

“Our new Prime Minister’s optimism, however, has a fantastical quality to it. He has made no attempt to marry his optimism with realism: and in particular the power relationships that he will now have to grapple with.

“When optimism and realism collide on Brexit, the best Johnson can realistically hope for is that the existing Withdrawal Agreement will squeak through the House of Commons with some face-saving changes made to the (non-binding) Political Declaration.

“If he succeeds in this, he will then have to start with detailed realistic negotiations with the EU—for the Withdrawal Agreement is only the start. He will also have to negotiate the UK’s relationship with the USA and with China. Mr Johnson’s optimism will not make one iota of difference in these negotiations, which will be conducted entirely on the basis of power.”

Coun Nial Hodson, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Sunderland:

“It is clear that the new Prime Minister doesn’t have a clue about the realities of what life is like for people in Sunderland – nor does he have an interest in listening to people here and doing what our city wants and needs to become a better place to live, study, work and do businesses.

“He seems set on pursuing a disastrous no deal exit from the EU whatever the cost to jobs and prosperity in our city. Instead, he should be focusing on tackling the economic and political issues which led a lot of people to vote to leave the EU back in 2016. I hold out very little hope that he will.

“I suspect that his time as Prime Minister will be an unmitigated disaster for Sunderland and for the North East.

“Time and time again he has shown that he isn’t fit to be Prime Minister. If we want to defeat nationalism and populism we need to give people an alternative vision for our country. It’s the Liberal Democrats who can lead the renewal our country needs.”

Coun Michael Dixon, Chair Sunderland Conservative Councillors: “Boris Johnson represents a view on the EU that was clearly reflected in the way the vast majority of people in Sunderland voted in the Referendum, so once again the Liberal Democrats occupy a political world that is far removed from the views of most of our residents on this massive issue.

“Niall Hodson is just churning out political clichés here without having the first clue how a Johnson premiership will evolve.

“In addition his reference to “nationalism” and “populism” are a patronising insult to the thousands of people in the city who just happen to disagree with him and his party on our future relationship with the EU.”