Boris Johnson on Wednesday night refused to quit and instead sacked Michael Gove, despite being confronted by Cabinet ministers, mass frontbench resignations and the threat of another leadership vote.
The Prime Minister was on the brink of being ousted as more frontbench walkouts took the total of Tory MPs quitting official posts over the past two days beyond 40.
In one-on-one meetings with Mr Johnson on Wednesday night, a string of Cabinet ministers personally told him he had lost the support of his party and should consider resigning.
The Telegraph can reveal that the government Whips Office has calculated that Mr Johnson would win the support of just 65 Tory MPs in a new confidence vote, from a total of almost 360.
But he rejected the Cabinet pressure to go, insisting there would be three months of "chaos" if he went.
This morning the resignations have already kicked off again, with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Helen Whately and Damian Hinds taking the total number of departures from Government to 49.
It should have been a day that was unsurvivable.
With a record number of resignations, a Government in tatters and a Cabinet delegation telling the Prime Minister his time was up, the normal rules of politics dictated that this was Mr Johnson's last day in office.
Yet he remains in Number 10, for now at least, like a squatter whose landlord lacks the legal powers to evict him.
Sit down with your morning coffee and soak up this gripping long-read recounting how instead of bowing to the inevitable, Mr Johnson bulldozed ahead.
Camilla Tominey says the Prime Minister's spectacular fall is like one of the Greek tragedies he studied at Oxford, as Madeline Grant sketches how calling the day's Westminster proceedings dramatic would be a disservice to the thespian muse.
The Telegraph View reflects on the longest day of Mr Johnson's premiership.
1922 Committee holds fire on rule change to oust PM
The 1922 Committee executive on Wednesday night held fire on changing the rules to allow a fresh leadership challenge as backbenchers urged Cabinet ministers to "step up to the plate".
At a crunch meeting, MPs decided against ripping up the rulebook immediately and instead agreed to hold elections to elect new chiefs on Monday.
Rebel MPs will back candidates who support a rule change while the Prime Minister’s allies will support those who want to uphold the status quo.
The elections themselves will be seen as a proxy vote on Mr Johnson's leadership.
In what may become one of his final acts as leader, the Prime Minister formally refused Nicola Sturgeon’s request for a second independence referendum.
Yet he has heavily hinted that he is ready to call a snap general election in response to attempts to oust him, despite warnings that the Queen may block him from doing so. Here is how.
Braverman announces leadership bid on live TV
One of Mr Johnson's own Cabinet ministers has announced she would run in the leadership contest to replace him as she called for him to stand down.
Suella Braverman, the Attorney General, set out her stall to be Prime Minister on live television but did not resign her role.
Ms Braverman is the first minister to break cover in the leadership race, but the Telegraph understands Nadhim Zahawi has also been plotting a leadership bid for months with the help of strategists connected to Sir Lynton Crosby.
Allister Heath admits Mr Johnson's premiership is ending in disaster, but he does not regret backing him in 2019.
David Young reflects that, like Thatcher, Mr Johnson's manner played a large part in his undoing.
Daily dose of Matt
Also in the news: Today's other headlines
MI5 and FBI unite | The head of the FBI warned that China is protecting itself from sanctions ahead of a threatened invasion of Taiwan, potentially causing a worldwide economic catastrophe. In the first-ever publicly shared platform with the head of MI5, Chris Wray, director of the FBI, warned that China was "drawing lessons from what's happening with Russia and its invasion of Ukraine". Read the "clue" in its behaviour.
Ukraine war | Zelensky clashes with top general over travel
The £1m Bob Dylan recording | How does it actually sound?
Around the world: State's last abortion clinic shuts
In the final hours that abortion remained legal in Mississippi, a steady stream of cars pulled up at the state's only clinic, some with license plates from as far afield as Texas. For many of the women seeking entry on Wednesday, this was a last-ditch effort to terminate unwanted pregnancies before Mississippi joins the abortion "desert" taking shape across southern America. But getting in to the clinic in Jackson was difficult. An angry mob awaited outside, determined to use their bodies to block anyone from making their appointment. Rozina Sabur was there as Mississippi's last clinic sounded the alarm as it closed its doors.
Comment and analysis
Con Coughlin | Ukraine has good reason to fear Boris's fall
Juliet Samuel | What on earth was Nadhim Zahawi thinking?
Jemima Lewis | Why try if we're just the product of our genes?
Michael Deacon | My plan to persuade the rich to have more children
Reader letters | PM's early promise gave way to dishonesty and sleaze
Today's PlusWord – and yesterday's solution
Try today's PlusWord, which our deputy puzzles editor Michael Baker solved in 1min 46sec. Can you beat him? Yesterday's solution: MACHO.
Sport briefing: Injury fear hits Nadal's title hopes
Rafael Nadal admits he is "worried" about his fitness to play Nick Kyrgios in Friday's Wimbledon semi-final after an abdominal injury left him in such agony that he was forced to alter his service action. Despite completing a staggering five-set comeback win over Taylor Fritz, the world No14, in a match so painful and gruelling that even his father, Sebastian, urged him to quit, the Spaniard was downbeat on his chances of backing up such a performance against Kyrgios, who reached his maiden grand slam semi-final after a straight-sets win over Cristian Garin. In football, Beth Mead's early goal kicked off England's hugely anticipated Euros campaign with a slender but valuable victory over Austria in front of a competition-record crowd at Old Trafford. In the men’s game, Raheem Sterling has agreed personal terms with Chelsea.
Gas explosions | The time-bomb under Britain’s homes
Diet, fitness and lifestyle regime | How to get a body like Cameron Norrie
Easing suffering | Could talking therapy help you give up painkillers?
Business briefing: BA cancels another 10,300 flights
British Airways has cancelled more than 10,000 flights in a blow for as many as a million summer holidaymakers as it battles against a staffing crisis. The airline said it had axed 10,300 short-haul trips that were scheduled to run from the start of August until the end of October, with a host of popular destinations in France, Spain and Greece likely to be affected. The latest cuts are on top of 16,000 flight cancellations revealed by BA in May, meaning that around 17pc of its planned summer schedule has now been ditched. Read why the airline and its rivals have struggled to increase operations after pandemic restrictions were eased.
Chicken and prawn jambalaya | A bright, warming one-pot to cast away miserable days.
Travel tips: French holiday with world-class wines
How does is it sound to moor on a hotel barge by an old church in a Burgundian village amid the aroma of freshly baked baguettes? This quintessentially Burgundian scene can be viewed from the hot tub of hotel barge L'Impressionniste, before a day of world-class wines and seeing beautiful châteaux. Read why the gloriously crowd-free Burgundy Canal is the savvy cruiser's French waterway of choice.
And finally... for this morning's downtime
'We sneaked out to a nightclub' | As the sequel to The Railway Children arrives, original star Sally Thomsett shares her memories of shooting the classic film and her wild 1970s days.