Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson: Northern Ireland reaction to the new prime minister

Boris Johnson Image copyright Reuters

Boris Johnson has been elected leader of the Conservative Party and will take up his new role as prime minister on Wednesday.

With Brexit looming, many are wondering how Mr Johnson will approach the negotiating table and what that will mean for Northern Ireland.

Here's how some of the political, economic and religious figures in Northern Ireland and the Republic have been reacting to his election.

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP

"I have spoken with Boris Johnson and congratulated him on becoming leader of the Conservative Party.

"The Confidence & Supply Agreement between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party remains.

"That Agreement included a review between each Parliamentary session. This will take place over the coming weeks and will explore the policy priorities of both parties for the next Parliamentary session."

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Image caption Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar, Irish Taoiseach (prime minister)

Image copyright Pacemaker

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Féin vice president

"A British prime minister, like all his predecessors, will prioritise British interests first.

"We will, in the coming days, engage with the British prime minister, we will engage him on the fact that there is nothing good to come from Brexit

"As this incoming prime minister leads us quickly towards a no-deal Brexit, we will continue to work with the Irish government, we will continue to work with the EU27, who have remained steadfast in protection of the Good Friday Agreement."

Naomi Long, Alliance Party leader

"Everyone will have their own opinion on Boris Johnson and his career to date. However, it is now vital as he takes up the reins as prime minister, he demonstrates a level of leadership and seriousness which has been lacking to date.

"At such a critical juncture, we need someone who is detail focused and sensitive to the complexity of the challenges ahead. In short, we need a statesman, not a showman.

"It's time to cut the bluff, bluster and bombastic rhetoric, and start to provide the kind of reassurance business and civic society needs. Whilst I remain sceptical he will do that, I wish him well and will be more than happy to be proved wrong."

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Robin Swann, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

"There is now immense expectation as to the next steps the new prime minister will take and one of those must be the restoration of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly.

"The Ulster Unionist Party is willing and able to work with Mr Johnson to ensure this happens but if that is unattainable in the short term, then he must move to ensure further critical decisions are taken by Westminster.

"The bottom line for the prime minister is that any decisions he takes must be in the best interests of all of the United Kingdom and that includes doing everything possible to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

"I urge him not to allow nationalism in Northern Ireland or Scotland to exploit the current instability for selfish political interests."

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Colum Eastwood, SDLP leader

"Johnson has coasted into Downing Street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster.

"It wont be long until he crashes into the rocky reality that the European Union will not sacrifice the interests of Ireland to appease a man who has lied and slandered its institutions in an effort to secure power.

"All parties in the North must now set our combined efforts to resisting the impulse of this administration to drive off the Brexit cliff edge.

"The fragile complexities of political and economic relationships across this island cannot be placed on the altar of British nativism."

Image copyright Presbyterian Church of Ireland

Rev Dr William Henry, Presbyterian Church of Ireland moderator

"While your (Mr Johnson's) primary focus will be, of course, the ongoing process of leaving the European Union, I hope that you will also take a keen and personal interest in the talks to restore devolution to Northern Ireland - actively encouraging those involved to go the extra mile.

"The absence of devolved government continues to affect the lives of many of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society."

John McGrane, British-Irish Chamber of Commerce

"The election of a new Conservative Party leader today offers an important opportunity to move forward on Brexit and to end the current uncertainty that prevails.

"Businesses on both sides of the Irish Sea have been operating without any clarity and in fear of a no-deal Brexit for too long.

"We encourage both the incoming UK prime minister and his EU counterparts to engage constructively in negotiations over the coming weeks."

Clare Bailey, Green Party leader

"Boris Johnson may have been selected as the next Prime Minister by the Tory Party but has no mandate from the people," said Green Party leader Claire Bailey.

"The man who compared a border on the island of Ireland to the boundary between Islington and Camden cares little about our economic, social and political future."

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