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Boris Johnson wins race to become next British prime minister

Boris Johnson has won the Conservative Party leadership race [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 July, 2019

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Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson, who has a history of bigoted comments, is set to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Former London mayor Boris Johnson on Tuesday won the race to become Britain's next prime minister, defeating Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership contest.

Brexit hardliner Johnson defeated Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656 votes cast by members of the Conservative party. He will officially replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

The victory is a triumph for the 55-year-old Johnson, an ambitious but erratic politician whose political career has veered between periods in high office and spells on the sidelines.

Johnson has vowed that Britain will quit the European Union, "come what may," on the scheduled Brexit departure date of Oct. 31 even if it means leaving without a divorce deal

But he faces a rocky ride from a Parliament determined to prevent him from taking the UK out of the bloc without a withdrawal agreement.

Johnson has in recent months been under fire for comments that have been offensive to minorities, including succumbing to Islamophobia and homophobia.

Last week, he was condemned for refusing to admit that comments by US President Donald Trump suggesting four Congresswomen of colour should "go home" were racist.

Johnson called Trump's remarks "totally unacceptable", but refused to call them racist.

"I simply can't understand how a leader of that country can come to say it... You can take from what I said what I think about President Trump's words," he said.

In 2018 Johnson sparked outrage when he compared Muslim women who wore the niqab (a veil that covers the face) to bank robbers and letterboxes.

Johnson wrote: "If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree.

"I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes."

He added that if "a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber" he would ask her to remove it to speak to her.

The comments led to a spike in Islamophobic attacks, as recorded by Islamophobia watchdog Tell MAMA.

An article he wrote for The Spectator in the year 2000 recently resurfaced in which he attacked Labour for their "appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it."

A year later he wrote in his book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen, about gay marriage: "If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog."

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