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Who is Boris Johnson? Brexit warrior, Trump's friend & China's frenemy

Boris Johnson wants to renegotiate a new deal with the EU, ditching parts of the accord PM May struck with Brussels last year, which was rejected by Parliament three times.

Who is Boris Johnson?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British politician, journalist, and popular historian and now leader of the Conservative party in Britain. He was a Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, and from 2016 to 2018 he served as a Foreign Secretary

Former foreign minister Boris Johnson was elected leader of Britain's governing Conservative Party on Tuesday and will take over as prime minister when Theresa May steps down on July 24.rvative Party on 23 July announced Boris Johnson as the new prime minister candidate after he won 92,153 votes beating his rival Britain's Jeremy Hunt who won 46,656 votes. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Boris Johnson

File Photo.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Boris' governing challenge

To deliver Brexit, one of the most divisive policies in decades, the new premier, Boris Johnson will have to show he can win votes in Parliament and govern after three years of political crisis.

But he could face a vote of no confidence in the 650-seat Parliament as early as his second day in office if the main opposition Labour Party calls one.

On its own, the ruling Conservative Party does not have the majority needed for the new prime minister to survive such a vote, relying under May on the support of 10 allied Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) lawmakers to govern.
 

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Brexit hurdle facing Boris

Johnson wants to renegotiate a new deal with the EU, ditching parts of the accord PM May struck with Brussels last year, which was rejected by Parliament three times. 

The problem for the next prime minister is that the withdrawal agreement contains the most contentious part of the exit deal an insurance policy to prevent border controls between EU member Ireland and British province Northern Ireland.

If Britain cannot negotiate a new deal, or Parliament rejects whatever the new leader brings back from Brussels, the country will be headed for an unmanaged exit from the EU a so-called no-deal Brexit on October 31.

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Keen to build a strong relationship with US

Johnson is keen to maintain a strong relationship with the United States and British media have reported he is considering a visit to meet Trump early in his premiership.

His reluctance to antagonise Trump was evident earlier this month when he failed to defend Britain's ambassador to Washington after diplomatic memos in which Kim Darroch described Trump's administration as "inept" were leaked to a newspaper.

Instead, Johnson said he had a good relationship with the White House and it was "very important that we should have a close friendship, a close partnership with the United States".

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Repeated promises

Johnson has vowed to spend billions of pounds on public services, infrastructure and tax cuts including promises to increase spending on education, transport, superfast broadband and police and end a public sector pay freeze.

He has said he will tap into the 27 billion pounds of "fiscal headroom" that has built up in the public finances, referring to the difference between the government's target for the budget deficit and its projected size.

British media have reported he is preparing an emergency budget including aggressive tax cuts, an overhaul of the stamp duty property tax and an assault on regulation if there is a no-deal Brexit.

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Tax cuts

Johnson has said there is room to make tax cuts and has pledged to raise the level at which the higher rate of income tax is paid. He also wants to raise the threshold at which people start to pay National Insurance.

"We should be raising thresholds of income tax so that we help the huge numbers that have been captured in the higher rate by fiscal drag. We can go for much greater economic growth and still be the cleanest, greenest society on earth," he said.

He has also said Britain should cut business taxes but has indicated internet giants could be forced to pay more.

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Johnson's stance on Hong Kong's 'extradition bill'

As protests erupted in Hong Kong, the former British colony earlier this month over a proposed extradition bill, and a war of words ensued between Britain and China, Johnson told Reuters the people of Hong Kong were "within their rights to be very sceptical, very anxious" about the legislation.

"I do support them and I will happily speak up for them and back them every inch of the way. And I would stress to our friends in Beijing that the one country, two systems approach has worked, is working and should not be cast aside," he said.

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'No compromise with national security'

A final decision on whether to include China's Huawei in Britain's 5G telecoms network has been stalled by May stepping down. Johnson has said while there can be significant benefits to investment from other countries, he would not compromise Britain's national security infrastructure.

"You would not expect me as prime minister to do anything to compromise the ability of our fantastic intelligence services to share information as they do, particularly with our five eyes partners, so that is the principle that will guide us."

(Photograph:Reuters)