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Boris Johnson named as prime minister

On 24 May 2019, Theresa May announced her resignation as prime minister, after failing to deliver an agreement to lead the UK out of the European Union. In July 2019, Boris Johnson won the Conservative leadership contest and became prime minister of the UK. He had previously served as mayor of London and foreign secretary.

First speech as prime minister

On 24 July 2019, Johnson made his first speech as prime minister, setting out his initial priorities for his tenure. He promised action to reduce waiting times for GP appointments, as well as 20 new ‘hospital upgrades’.

He also committed to reforming the funding system for adult social care. He promised that ‘We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve’.

2019 General Election

In autumn 2019, Johnson called a general election. The Conservative party won the election in December, with a majority of 80 seats. The party had campaigned under the slogan of ‘Get Brexit done’. The UK subsequently left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

The Conservative party’s manifesto commitments on health and care included:

  • additional funding for the NHS with £34 billion per year by the end of parliament
  • 40 new hospitals over the next 10 years
  • 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more doctors in general practice, 6,000 more primary care professionals and 50 million more general practice appointments
  • cross-party consensus on social care, aiming to bring forward legislation for long-term reform so that no one needing care had to sell their home to pay for it.

Tenure and resignation

Johnson served as prime minister during the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early 2020. He resigned in July 2022, following a series of scandals including being fined by police over social gatherings held at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s office, while ‘lockdown’ restrictions were in place during the pandemic.


Prime Minister's Office.
Boris Johnson's first speech as Prime Minister: 24 July 2019 [webpage].
gov.uk; 2019.

BBC News.
Boris Johnson wins race to be Tory leader and PM.
BBC News; 2019.

Foster D.
Reform of adult social care funding: developments since July 2019.
House of Commons Library; 2021.

BBC News.
Election results 2019: Boris Johnson's victory speech in full.
BBC News; 13 December 2019.

Conservative Party.
Conservative Party Manifesto 2019.
Conservative Party; 2019.