University experts on Prime Minister Boris and the possibility of another General Election

Peter Hayes, Boris Johnson and Kevin Yuill

Published on 23 July 2019

The flush of victory may well be short-lived for new Prime Minster Boris Johnson, experts from the University of Sunderland have warned.

Mr Johnson today won his long-running bid to become Prime Minister after he received 92,153 votes from members of the Conservative Party, seeing off rival Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Johnson will officially become PM on Wednesday.

But despite the victory, two political experts from the University of Sunderland have warned a rocky road lies ahead.

Mr Johnson, a former mayor of London, has already faced a backlash with a number of senior figures saying they will not serve under him.

Kevin Yuill is an Associate Professor at the University of Sunderland and a Brexiteer.

He believes the new PM now has a number of options available to him, however, his appointment could ultimately mean the British public are heading back to the polls ahead of October 31.

He said: “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.”

So what are the available of options for Prime Minster Johnson?

“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,” adds Dr Yuill.

“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."

Current PM Theresa May will officially tender her resignation to the Queen on Wednesday afternoon after taking part in her final Prime Minister's Questions.

Mr Johnson will take office shortly afterwards, following an audience at Buckingham Palace.

But the road to October 31 may be a rocky one.

Dr Peter Hayes, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sunderland, believes the new PM struck a chord with a disillusioned public – but fears that may not be enough to see him through the unprecedented turbulent political climate.

He said: “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.”