Live: The latest as Boris Johnson resigns – and sparks Tory leadership race

·10 min read
Live: The latest as Boris Johnson resigns – and sparks Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson has resigned as Conservative leader in the face of a mass exodus of Government ministers.

In a statement outside Number 10, he said the process of choosing a new leader “should begin now”.

He intends to remain in No 10 until his successor is elected, but he faces resistance to that plan from within his own party and the Opposition.

Here is how the downfall of Mr Johnson unfolded:

4.57pm

Political leaders across the UK and Europe have reacted to Mr Johnson’s resignation, with many welcoming the decision.

4.52pm

Mr Johnson’s support of Ukraine, which was invaded by its neighbour Russia in February, sparking a bloody and indiscriminate war, is being appreciated online.

4.40pm

Political economist Dr Steve McCabe, associate professor at Birmingham City University, discusses Mr Johnson’s downfall and the future of British government.

4.38pm

Robert Buckland, the newly-appointed Welsh Secretary, looked chipper while arriving at No 10 earlier.

Boris Johnson resignation
(Beresford Hodge/PA)

4.30pm

Conservative politicians stayed tight-lipped as they left the Cabinet meeting hosted by Mr Johnson just hours after he officially announced he was quitting the Tory leadership.

Education Secretary James Cleverly ignored media questions about if he would run for leader as he left Downing Street.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi held his head down and deliberately ignored calls from the waiting press as he determinedly walked out of Number 10.

POLITICS Johnson
(PA Graphics)

Smiling Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara told reporters: “Good afternoon. I have got work to do and I am going to do it.”

Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark and Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland left Downing Street side-by-side. Each was clutching a red ministerial book and neither gave comment on the dramatic events of the past few days.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Environment Secretary George Eustice and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were straight-faced and silent as they left.

There was a similar reaction from Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, as she left.

4.28pm

In case you missed it: Here’s what happens next.

4.26pm

Conservative leadership hopeful Steve Baker admitted it will be “very difficult” to persuade Tory MPs to back him to replace Mr Johnson because he lacks Cabinet experience.

Mr Baker told the PA news agency: “These are very sad events as somebody who backed Boris Johnson, twice actually, for the leadership, who helped him get his 80 seat majority, who helped him get his Brexit deal over the line with the Eurosceptics, this is a very sad day.

“I like Boris Johnson, I have seen an earnest Boris Johnson at times. I really wanted him to be a roaring success so I’m very sad but equally after everything that has happened, an enormous collapse in the Government over Pincher, it is right that the Prime Minister is going and I now am looking to the future and a leadership contest.”

Steve Baker speaking to the media on College Green outside the Houses of Parlliament
Steve Baker speaking to the media on College Green outside the Houses of Parlliament (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Setting out his leadership credentials, he added: “I have spent seven years out of my 12 in Parliament providing real leadership to a good proportion of Conservative MPs.”

He added: “ConservativeHome members consistently put me in their top ten for next Prime Minister, they sometimes put me in their top five.”

But he said: “I recognise that without Cabinet experience it would be very difficult for me to persuade Members of Parliament to put me in the last two.”

4.24pm

The outgoing leader of the Conservative Party has had his say on Twitter.

4.19pm

Irish Premier Micheal Martin said he understands Mr Johnson has been through “a fairly difficult number of months”.

“I wish him and his family the very best for the future,” Mr Martin said in Dublin.

“From our perspective, Britain is our closest neighbour.

“It’s extremely important that we have a very strong, deep-rooted relationship economically, socially, culturally and of course, in terms of the respective government’s role as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin
Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

“It’s fair to say that over the last while that relationship has come under strain, and there have been significant challenges, and I believe opportunities may now arise to reset that relationship.

“Particularly, to avoid unilateralism and to pull back from the unilateralism that has been evident in respect of legacy in respect of the human rights as enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and unilateralism in terms of the protocol itself, in terms of the legislation.”

4.16pm

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Johnson’s interactions with Ireland have been “wholly negative”, saying he will “not be missed”.

4.15pm

Former science minister George Freeman, who resigned from the Government on Thursday, insists Mr Johnson cannot continue as Prime Minister despite quitting as Tory leader.

He said the Government needs a caretaker prime minister who can “stabilise” things.

Mr Freeman added: “I think he’s done the right thing in acknowledging that it’s up, his authority is gone.

George Freeman
George Freeman (PA)

“I think what’s difficult really is to see how he’s going to be able to put together a government that next week will escape from the insecurity and chaos we’ve seen this week.

“I just worry that he isn’t going to be able to bring the stability that we need. He’s got a Chancellor who’s already said he doesn’t have any confidence in him and two or three other members of the Cabinet. The Attorney General is outwardly campaigning for his job. It’s just not a credible way to form a government.”

Told on Sky News that there is not a precedent for such a caretaker role, he replied: “There isn’t a precedent for Boris Johnson. There isn’t a precedent for where we are today, for this crisis. Fifty ministers have resigned, and I think we’re going to have to, in the next few days, select somebody. It’s not beyond the wit of man.”

4.10pm

Jack Monroe isn’t too impressed with Mr Johnson’s resignation speech.

4.04pm

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and former health secretary Sajid Javid are both seriously considering running for Tory leader, the PA news agency understands.

3.57pm

Here are some of the key moments in Mr Johnson’s eventful life.

3.56pm

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Mr Johnson was “worse than Neville Chamberlain” and will be remembered as “the worst” prime minister “in our history”.

Sir Ed told the PA news agency: “He is far worse than Chamberlain, Chamberlain didn’t break the law, whatever he did, and I’m no Chamberlain fan.

“This Prime Minister will, I think, be remembered for the first prime minister in British history to lie on an industrial scale and to care more about himself than he did the British people.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey
Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey (PA)

He said Conservative MPs had “failed to do their patriotic duty” by not getting rid of him sooner.

Sir Ed said “Boris Johnson wasn’t fit to govern our great country”, calling him a “law-breaking, lying, incompetent prime minister, the worst in our history”.

3.53pm

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is not planning to stand to become the next Conservative Party leader, the PA news agency understands.

3.46pm

A bookmaker firm has been showing the latest odds for the next Conservative Party leader on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is favourite at 5/2.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

3.38pm

The latest piece of political commentary comes from former footballer Neville Southall.

3.32pm

Business minister Paul Scully said there is a “lot of talent” in the Conservative Party and it now needs to find a new leader “to rally around and move on”.

Mr Scully told the PA news agency: “It has been hugely frustrating that we have got to this point but the Prime Minister has made absolutely the right decision, it is time we found a new prime minister to rally around and move on.

“What we are now doing is starting that competition, the leadership contest, but we will in the meantime continue on the important matters of the day.”

Paul Scully
Paul Scully (PA)

On whether he would run to succeed Mr Johnson as Conservative Party leader, he said: “In no way, shape or form will I be anywhere near that; (it’s) always flattering to be asked but not a chance.”

On who he would like to lead the Tories, Mr Scully said: “I don’t have an individual name; there is plenty of people going to be coming forward with a lot of talent, but I’m going to be looking for someone that’s going to continue to deliver for the UK.”

3.19pm

And here’s Deputy PM Dominic Raab, who could still find himself in the hot seat temporarily if calls for Mr Johnson to leave earlier are successful.

Dominic Raab
(James Manning/PA)

3.17pm

Also arriving at the meeting is Attorney General Suella Braverman, who was the first to declare she would be going for Mr Johnson’s job.

Suella Braverman
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

3.10pm

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, a staunch and vocal supporter of Mr Johnson, has been pictured arriving for a Cabinet meeting at No 10 – the first since Mr Johnson’s resignation as Conservative Party leader.

Nadine Dorries
(James Manning/PA)

3.08pm

Mr Johnson spoke to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky “to reiterate the United Kingdom’s steadfast support”.

“The Prime Minister highlighted the UK’s unwavering cross-party support for President Zelensky’s people, and said the UK would continue to supply vital defensive aid for as long as needed,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“The Prime Minister added that he would continue to work at pace with partners to try and end the grain blockade in the coming weeks.

“He thanked President Zelensky for everything he’s doing to stick up for freedom, for his friendship and for the kindness of the Ukrainian people.

Mr Zelensky (right) meeting Mr Johnson in Kyiv in June
Mr Zelensky (right) meeting Mr Johnson in Kyiv in June (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA)

“President Zelensky thanked the Prime Minister for his decisive action on Ukraine, and said the Ukrainian people were grateful for the UK’s efforts.

“The Prime Minister finished the call by praising President Zelensky, saying: ‘You’re a hero, everybody loves you’.”

3.04pm

Journalist Jane Merrick says Mr Johnson has just spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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