Politics

Boris Johnson’s resignation fires starting gun on race to replace him

Boris Johnson’s resignation has effectively fired the starting gun on the Conservative Party leadership race to replace him.

It comes as questions remain over whether his desperate attempts to cling on as prime minister mean he should not be allowed to remain in office while his successor is picked.

Tom Tugendhat became the first Conservative MP to launch a leadership bid following Mr Johnson’s resignation speech.

Writing in Friday’s Daily Telegraph, the chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee said his party needs a “clean start”.

“We must make government work for the people once again – and we need to give them that clean start,” he wrote.

“As public servants, our actions must serve the interests of the British people.

“I have served before – in the military, and now in parliament.

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“Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister. It’s time for a clean start. It’s time for renewal.”

Sky News understands Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also considering a Conservative Party leadership bid.

Former health secretary Sajid Javid, who resigned on Tuesday evening, is also understood to be deciding whether to enter the contest – according to the PA news agency.

But Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Michael Gove have both ruled themselves out of the contest, Sky News had been told.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock, who quit over breaking COVID rules, is also understood to not be interested in a leadership bid.

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Who will be the next prime minister?

‘It’s time for a clean start’

Elsewhere, speaking before Mr Johnson announced his resignation, Ben Wallace declined to comment on whether he would run to replace him.

The defence secretary, a frontrunner to replace Mr Johnson, was asked if he would be seeking the top job while he was on a visit to a military training area in the north of England.

“Let’s see what the prime minister says,” he said.

Sky News’ political correspondent Joe Pike understands Mr Wallace is discussing the matter with his family before deciding whether or not to make a bid.

Speaking before Mr Johnson resigned on Thursday, Attorney General Suella Braverman told ITV’s political editor Robert Peston that “yes” she would hypothetically consider a leadership bid if the PM was to stand aside.

Ardent Brexiteer Steve Baker has also indicated he would run.

While Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also hinted that he will throw his hat in the ring.

“We now need a new leader as soon as practicable. Someone who can rebuild trust, heal the country, and set out a new, sensible and consistent economic approach to help families,” he said.

Read more: Who are the frontrunners to be the next PM?

In his resignation speech outside Number 10 on Thursday, Mr Johnson confirmed a timetable for the process to elect a new leader will be set out next week.

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The rise and fall of Boris Johnson

‘Unwise’ for Johnson to stay until autumn

He told broadcasters he intends to remain in Number 10 until his successor is elected, but he faces resistance to that plan from within his own party.

The timetable for the leadership contest is expected to result in a successor being in place for the party’s conference in October.

Former prime minister Sir John Major said it was “unwise and may be unsustainable” for Mr Johnson to stay this long.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also threatened to call a vote of no confidence in the Commons, with the support of other opposition parties, if Tory MPs cannot oust him straight away.

Mr Johnson has already appointed new cabinet ministers to replace MPs who quit in protest against his leadership.

These include Greg Clark as the new levelling up secretary, replacing Mr Gove and James Cleverly as education secretary – the third person to hold that role in as many days.

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When will Johnson leave No 10?

The new cabinet met on Thursday afternoon but no press cameras were allowed in.

Mr Johnson told his cabinet ministers his government will not seek to implement new policies or make major changes of direction after he resigned as Conservative Party leader.

Addressing his reshuffled top team of ministers for the first time since resigning earlier on Thursday, Mr Johnson said his priority is “to continue delivering on manifesto pledges and making sure the government is on the side of the public, on the cost of energy, transport and housing and all else that matters to them”.

He also said the government “would focus on delivering the agenda on which the government was elected” and that “major fiscal decisions should be left for the next prime minister”.

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