Boris Johnson named new Prime Minister

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has been elected the new leader of the Conservative Party, following a ballot by its members, meaning that he has become the next UK Prime Minister.

Out of the almost 160,000 members, Johnson received 92,153 votes, compared to his opponent Jeremy Hunt, who received 46,656 votes. Overall, there was a party turnout of 87.4% for the vote.

The former London Mayor will now succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister. May congratulated Johnson via Twitter, and offered her “full support” to him.

In his victory speech following the announcement, Johnson said he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn”.

He was congratulated by US President Donald Trump, following the announcement.

However, his rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately went on the attack following the vote.

Industry reaction

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General

Many congratulations to Boris Johnson. British business shares your optimism for the UK. Let’s work together to get our economy back on track and working for communities everywhere.

Business needs three things in the first 100 days. A Brexit deal that unlocks confidence; clear signals the UK is open for business; and a truly pro-enterprise vision for our country.

On Brexit, the new Prime Minister must not underestimate the benefits of a good deal. It will unlock new investment and confidence in factories and boardrooms across the country. Business will back you across Europe to help get there.

Early signals back home also matter. From a new immigration system to green-lighting major infrastructure, there is no time to waste.

Karendeep Kaur, Senior Immigration Consultant at Migrate UK

Boris Johnson is a Prime Minister who knows that ‘playing the numbers game’ is not going to cut immigration levels as has been the Conservative manifesto since 2010 whilst Theresa May was still Home Secretary. Maybe that is why May became Prime Minister as there was the hope that migration levels will be reduced but Boris has learnt from this. Although migration from EU member states has dwindled, the rest of the world is still open for business and continues to compete for a place in the UK market.

Although Boris doesn’t commit to reducing immigration levels, he does propose to put in place a stringent points-based system like Australia, which will see an elitist immigration system which takes into consideration a migrant’s level of skill, education, age and English language proficiency thus, side-lining the lower skilled migrants.

However, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is proposing to drop the skill level to RQF level 3 so Boris’s request to the MAC to focus on an Australian points-based system to ‘control’ migration as oppose to ‘lowering’ it, may well be taken into consideration but without his desired result.

It would be much better to see the quota system abolished alongside lowering of skill levels as MAC proposes, as there is a need for both highly skilled migrants and those that work in key manual and seasonal roles. Boris’s assertion that the migrant’s professional and personal skill levels be taken into account, will no doubt be a welcomed viewpoint on the way in which migration should be handled but his blasé approach with failing to comment on the cut to immigration levels has swung in his favour. He hasn’t promised to cut migration, but he has shown the intention to curb it.

Jo Sellick, Managing Director, Sellick Partnership

As expected, Boris Johnson has won the Tory leadership ballot and will formally become our new Prime Minster (PM) tomorrow, throwing any progress we have made over Brexit up in the air. The decision to appoint Boris as PM is a controversial one, and one that even members of his own partly wholly disagree with. We have already had some high profile resignations, the value of the pound continues to tumble and I expect more turmoil to follow as Boris takes Number 10 and throws our country into even more uncertain times. I am sorry to say that my confidence in our government is at an all-time low.

My biggest concern is where this leaves us in relation to Brexit, and the issues that have been bubbling over the pot for the past few years. With Theresa May there was always a glimmer of hope that she would continue to negotiate with the EU until such a time that they compromised or she was forced into giving the UK electorate another chance to vote. With Boris we have no such safety net. Boris Johnson plans to leave the EU on October 31 2019 with or without a deal full stop, which could be catastrophic for our country.

I fear that having a leader with such a strong viewpoint, and very little in the way of compromise could damage our current relationship with the EU and leave things very sour after our exit. Ruining the strong relationship we have with our EU neighbours would not only be disappointing for the 49 percent that voted against Brexit, but also damaging for the UK as a whole. We rely on EU workers to feed our talent pool with highly skilled individuals to support our NHS, our food and drink industry and professional services to name but a few. Without them we will continue to see a decline in readily available candidates until such a time we can build new relationships further afield, and formally release an immigration policy that is attractive to experienced non EU workers that want to build a career here in the UK.

As a recruitment leader I am regularly asked what harming our relationship with the EU might do to our talent pool, or what might happen to our workforce should we leave without a deal. I think we are already witnessing the ‘if’ in this question. EU migration has fallen year-on-year since the EU Referendum and job vacancies are at an all-time high as a result. In November last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that our UK unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent at the same time as we saw a drop of 132,000 citizens from other European Union countries working in Britain. This is worrying for a country that already has a massive skills shortage and I don’t see much being done to try and rectify it at present. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, the UK government and our politicians should be working to make the UK an exciting and attractive place to work for experienced candidates across the globe.

There is however a glimmer of hope. The ONS also recently reported that net migration to the UK from countries outside the European Union has hit its highest level for 15 years. This could offer some comfort to businesses that rely on UK migration, but I would proceed with an element of caution.

I would be interested to find where these migrants are currently working and what benefit they are having on the UK economy. Until I see evidence that these new workers can replicate the success we have had utilising EU workers, I will stay on the fence. EU talent is a tried and tested pool, and l worry that bringing candidates from elsewhere will increase UK migration, but will not have any real impact on improving the skills shortage we are currently witnessing.

Whatever happens, with Boris at the helm it is more likely than ever that we will crash out of the EU without a deal in little over three months, so businesses should do whatever they can now to prepare. We need to start preparing for the worst. I would therefore advise business leaders that are considering taking on new workers to do so before our exit date to avoid being left disappointed. After October 31 2019 anything could happen, and if we do leave without a deal as expected, our EU workforce could take a massive blow, leaving us short of the talent we need to run our country efficiently.

Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO of UKFast

What does it really mean to the UK to have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister?

Having met both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, the choice between the two became quite clear. Hunt said he would drop corporation tax. You would think I’d be over the moon at that as a businessperson but really, I don’t want a drop in tax, and neither do most of the businesspeople I know. It’s this tax that funds essential services like schools, the police and hospitals, which are chronically underfunded.

Boris Johnson has to address the public sector, which has been undervalued for a significant period now. We need more police on the streets and we need proper pay increases for the emergency services, nurses and teachers.

Right now we need to invest our money in this country and in our public services, so cutting taxes may win a few hearts and minds in a very small minority, but it’s not what the country needs. I want a strong economy where everybody prospers and I believe Boris is best equipped to deliver on that.

Are you worried that Boris is prone to a gaffe? 

There’s a significant difference between being Mayor of London and being our Prime Minister. I expect him to handle the job with dignity and I think he’ll be a great leader. I’ve met him in person and he’s an interesting character who is clearly very intelligent. Ultimately, we have to get behind the PM, regardless of our politics. He’s the one that’s representing us now across the globe. If he lets us down then we can all start complaining, but right now I’m behind him 100%, as I would be whoever took the top job.

On the “Tech Tax” issue

I was in a meeting with Boris Johnson a couple of weeks ago where we discussed the various different taxation issues with Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. He acknowledged that it’s clearly not a level playing field. He gets it. I’m confident that he’s the right man to try and finally remedy that issue and create a level playing field for British businesses which ultimately means more money for the British people, and more opportunities for our businesses to compete.

On Tory resignations

I’d urge the likes of Philip Hammond and the others who are jumping ship to just wait and see what happens. You’ve got to be around the table to negotiate and influence. They’ve worked hard to become politicians and now is the time to have that arm wrestle and have your voice heard. You can’t be heard if you’re not around the table, so it’s crazy that people are sacrificing themselves just to make a point.

On Brexit

As a business leader I’m not worried that Boris Johnson is going to hold us to the Brexit withdrawal date at the end of October. We’ve had more than enough uncertainty and delays now, and I’d rather have a set date to work to, despite concerns from some quarters about a no-deal scenario.

If the EU won’t play ball and we leave without a deal, we will begin the negotiations from that point with a clean slate. We can’t just keep delaying.