ORKNEY and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael says he sees “few positives” for the United Kingdom in the election of Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party.
The politician is due to be sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday after easily defeating Jeremy Hunt in a vote by party members.
He will replace Theresa May in UK politics’ top job.
Johnson said he will “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn”.
Speaking after the news was announced on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Carmichael said Johnson’s apparent acceptance of potentially leaving the European Union without a deal is a worry.
“While I would of course congratulate Boris Johnson on his election I am afraid I see few positives in it for the United Kingdom,” he said.
“His claimed determination to deliver Brexit, even if that means leaving the EU without a deal, has to be seen as an existential threat to the union of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Today’s news does not change the arithmetic in the House of Commons so Boris Johnson will have the same problems as Theresa May. If he is serious about breaking the logjam then Boris Johnston should accept that the only way through this is to have a people’s vote.
“In recent years the hard left has controlled the Labour Party. Today’s result confirms that the Tory Party is now controlled by populist nationalists who were previously in UKIP.
“For Ruth Davidson and her rebranding of the Tories in Scotland only the Liberal Democrats will speak for the moderate mainstream of Scottish opinion that wants Scotland to remain in the UK and the UK to remain part of the European Union.”
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie, meanwhile, said Scotland needs a “route out of Boris’ Brexit Britain”.
“The people of Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit, we didn’t vote for a Tory government and I’m certain that given the choice we wouldn’t have voted for Boris Johnson either,” he said.
“Scotland needs a route out of Boris’ Brexit Britain, and while we already have a firm mandate to hold a referendum, Johnson’s elevation to the office of Prime Minister on the back of bluff and bluster is hugely concerning and reinforces the need to hold this vote urgently.”
Tom Wills, the SNP’s candidate in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament by-election in Shetland, commented that the isles face increased risk of economic harm under Johnson.
“Shetland voted remain, yet we’re being dragged down the path towards a damaging no deal,” he said.
“The risk of that outcome has shot up exponentially with today’s news. Much of the infrastructure and investment in Shetland in recent years has been thanks to European funding. We depend on EU nationals working in key industries, such as the seafood and hospitality sectors.”
Conservative list MSP for the Highlands and Islands Jamie Halcro Johnston said the “real work” now begins.
“It is incredibly important now that we unite behind the new prime minister Boris Johnson and deliver on the challenges that lie ahead of us,” he said.
“Here, that means a Brexit that delivers for the people of the Highlands and Islands and which, for instance, allows us to regain control of our fishing grounds, revives our coastal communities and which supports and provides increased opportunities for our farming communities.
“And, when Brexit is done, we can look forward to an inclusive government which, as Boris Johnson made clear in his acceptance speech, will govern in the best Tory tradition of uniting our country and reconciling the best instincts of all our people.”
Comments from other by-election candidates will be added to this news story as and when they arrive.