Rishi Sunak resigned from the Government following a major row last weekend with Boris Johnson over how and when to cut tax, it has been reported.
The former Chancellor, who declared his bid to replace Mr Johnson with a slick campaign video yesterday, helped to trigger a landslide of resignations when he stepped down on Wednesday evening just minutes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
It was believed that Mr Sunak, 42, had heeded calls of Tory rebel MPs who had been demanding action from Cabinet ministers after the latest sleaze scandal – this time involving former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.
But the new leadership contender in fact stepped down after a major bust-up with Mr Johnson last weekend, with Mr Sunak allegedly having refused point black to cut corporation tax despite the PM’s demands, according to the Telegraph.
Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak are believed to have repeatedly clashed over fiscal policy prior to last weekend’s argument, with the PM having allegedly wanted to reverse the previously planned increase in corporation tax to 25 per cent by 2023.
Mr Sunak promised in his campaign video to ‘restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country’.
The 42-year-old also unveiled a website as part of the very polished campaign launch – with the slogan ‘Ready For Rishi’. Critics accused him of having worked on the video long before he resigned as Chancellor.
It was a claim that was firmly denied by his campaign team, despite records showing that a campaign website – readyforishi.com – was registered last December. This URL now redirects to his current site, ready4rishi.com, which was set up on July 6, the day after Mr Sunak resigned.
Mr Sunak said in his campaign video: ‘Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation. Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.
‘Because the choices we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will have more opportunities than the last.’
It comes as Mr Sunak reportedly urged Mr Javid to step aside from his own expected leadership bid and back his own campaign.
Allies of Mr Sunak, 42, have contacted friends of the former Health Secretary, 52, arguing that he does not have the support or ‘infrastructure’ and that they are competing for the same voters, according to The Times.
Other MPs who have thrown their hats into the ring to replace Mr Johnson after he caved to pressure and resigned on Thursday include former qualities minister Kemi Badenoch and Attorney General Suella Braverman.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is also said to be considering a bid, while a host of backbench MPs are also pitching for the top job.
Rishi Sunak resigned from the Government following a major row last weekend with Boris Johnson over how and when to cut tax, it has been reported . Above: Mr Sunak in his campaign video
Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak are believed to have repeatedly clashed over fiscal policy prior to last weekend’s argument, with the PM having allegedly wanted to reverse the previously planned increase in corporation tax to 25 per cent by 2023
Ready for Rishi? Key parts of ex-Chancellor’s slick campaign video
‘This young woman came to Britain, where she managed to find a job, but it took her nearly a year to save enough money for her husband and children to follow her.
‘One of those children was my mother, aged 15. My mum studied hard and got the qualifications to become a pharmacist. She met my dad, an NHS GP, and they settled in Southampton.’
‘I ran the toughest department in Government during the toughest times when we faced the nightmare of Covid.
‘My values are non-negotiable. Patriotism, fairness, hard work. We’ve had enough of division. Politics at its best is a unifying endeavour, and I have spent my career bringing people together.’
His swipe at Boris Johnson:
‘Do we confront this moment with honest, seriousness and determination?
‘Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment, but will leave our children worse off tomorrow?’
Mr Sunak has picked up the support of former Conservative chair Oliver Dowden, ex-Cabinet minister Liam Fox, rising Tory star Laura Trott and Angela Richardson.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Mr Fox defended Mr Sunak’s reluctance to cut taxes, despite promises by other leadership candidates to do so.
‘We can cut taxes when we cut our spending, he said.
‘What we can’t do is borrow more to spend, we have got what £83billion this year we are spending on debt interest, our highest on record?
‘We shouldn’t be putting up taxes to spend more. So what I actually want to see is someone who has actually got a plan to see the spending of the Government controlled over time.’
The former International Trade Secretary also criticised Mr Johnson’s desire to lavish money on policies.
‘We can’t continue with what we have had in recent years, which was under Boris Johnson an instruction at all points just to keep on spending
‘I didn’t in 2019 vote for a high-spending social-democratic government,’ he added.
Responding to the claim that Mr Sunak worked on his video long before he resigned, Mr Fox added: ‘I have no idea how long that takes, nor do I think it is a big issue for anyone supporting him in this election.
‘I know quite a number of cabinet ministers who have been campaigning openly amongst by colleagues for quite some time now, so I’m not sure that is an issue. What is an issue what sort of leader will we have.’
Ms Badenoch is the latest to throw her hat into the leadership race, with a plan for a smaller state and a government ‘focused on the essentials’.
The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes ‘to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline’.
Writing in The Times, she also hit out at ‘identity politics’ and said Boris Johnson was ‘a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them’.
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, said he was backing Ms Badenoch.
Meanwhile, former minister Steve Baker has backed Ms Braverman’s campaign – despite previously saying he was seriously considering putting himself forward for the top job.
Ms Braverman, writing in the Daily Express, promised ‘rapid and large tax cuts’ to ease inflation and said the energy crisis meant ‘we must suspend the all-consuming desire to achieve net zero by 2050’.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is also widely expected to run for leader.
Tory MPs Chloe Smith, Julian Knight and Jackie-Doyle Price expressed their support for the senior Cabinet minister on Friday, although she is yet to launch a bid.
Ex-Chancellor registered his leadership website domain name in December – four days after Boris Johnson’s wine and cheese Partygate photo was published
Rishi Sunak had his campaign website domain name registered six months before Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister and just four days after the infamous photo of Downing Street staff eating cheese and drinking wine in the No 10 garden was leaked.
Records on DomainTools show that his website – readyforrishi.com – was registered on December 23, 2021. This domain now automatically redirects to his current website – ready4rishi.com – which was set up on July 6, the day after the Chancellor quit.
His campaign team denied it was their domain, saying they had been transferred addresses set up by other people.
Ms Smith said Ms Truss is ‘the right person to take our country forward’, while Mr Knight said she would ‘deliver on the promise we made to our voters’.
Jackie Doyle-Price told The Times Ms Truss would be ‘a vigorous defender of women’s rights’ in an apparent reference to her defence of single-sex spaces.
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely also told BBC Newsnight he believes Ms Truss is most likely to provide ‘clarity of leadership’, and he suspects she will announce her candidacy over the weekend or early next week – although that is ‘up to her’.
Mr Baker, a prominent Brexiteer, had told the PA news agency that Tory blog ConservativeHome ‘consistently put me in their top 10 for next prime minister, they sometimes put me in their top five’.
But he said it would be ‘very difficult’ to persuade colleagues to back him for the party-wide ballot without Cabinet experience.
On Friday evening, he tweeted: ‘I considered standing for the leadership. My priorities were delivering against our manifesto with our mandate, cutting taxes and seeing through Brexit.
‘Happily I no longer need to stand. @SuellaBraverman will deliver these priorities and more.’
Allies of former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was runner-up to Boris Johnson in 2019, said he was ‘virtually certain’ to stand again this time.
Responding to revelations that the website readyforrishi.com was registered last December, Mr Sunak’s team said domains are bought all the time.
Even before he made his formal announcement, Mr Sunak had come under fire from Johnson loyalists, with Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg denouncing him as a ‘high tax chancellor’ who failed to curb inflation.
Mr Rees-Mogg went on to tell the BBC’s Any Questions on Friday: ‘I will not be endorsing Mr Sunak for prime minister.
‘I belong to a party that believes in low taxation and the former chancellor has talked about low taxation and delivered higher taxation.’
The absence of a clear front-runner in the leadership race has tempted a number of less-fancied contenders to step forward – with backbencher John Baron saying he will be ‘taking soundings’ over the weekend.
Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, has already said he will be be putting his name forward.
More are expected in the coming days including Mr Sunak’s successor as chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, and Ms Truss.
While Mr Zahawi has not yet launched a bid, Tory peer and minister Lord Goldsmith said on Friday evening he ‘stands apart from most rivals’.
Elsewhere, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is tipped to be a front-runner should he mount his own campaign.
Defence minister James Heappey told The Telegraph in comments reported on Friday that Mr Wallace had ‘spent the last 48 hours thinking really hard about whether he wants to do it’.
‘He says it straight,’ he said. ‘There is a dimension that Ben is now known on the world stage as a safe pair of hands.
‘His biggest selling point is that he is good, honest, decent, hard working, communicates in a way the public understands and likes and is honest about what he does and doesn’t know.’
Following elections to the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee on Monday, the new body will draw up a timetable for the leadership election.
Mr Sunak quit as Treasury chief on Tuesday night within minutes of Sajid Javid’s resignation as health secretary, which prompted claims the pair had coordinated their bombshell exits from Mr Johnson’s Cabinet.
In his resignation letter to Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak publicly questioned the PM’s competence and seriousness. He also described ‘fundamental’ differences between himself and Mr Johnson on economic policy.
The ex-Chancellor appeared to take another swipe at the outgoing PM in his campaign video.
With Britain in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis with households suffering from soaring inflation, Mr Sunak asked: ‘Do we confront this moment with honest, seriousness and determination?
‘Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment, but will leave our children worse off tomorrow?
‘Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.’
Mr Sunak also used the video to detail his family background – with his grandparents having emigrated to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s.
He described his mother, Usha, studied to become a pharmacist before meeting his father, Yashvir, who was an NHS GP.
Mr Sunak grew up in Southampton before going on to study at Oxford University and then Stanford University, in the US.
After the PM announced his resignation on the steps of Number 10 yesterday, Mr Sunak spent the evening with key Conservative powerbrokers at the summer party of the Spectator magazine.
Earlier this year, Mr Sunak’s hopes of being Mr Johnson’s successor were viewed as having been fatally damaged by the controversy over his family’s finances and tax affairs.
The revelation that his billionaire heiress wife, Akshata Murty, had non-dom tax status caused a furious political row and saw Mr Sunak plummet in popularity among Tory members.
He then suffered a further blow when he, alongside Mr Johnson, was fined as part of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into Partygate.
Ms Murty was this week photographed bringing hot drinks – in £38 mugs – and snacks to a press pack waiting outside her and her husband’s London home.
Mr Sunak and his family’s wealth is likely to attract accusations from rival Tory contenders that he is not best-placed to empathise with Britons during the cost-of-living squeeze.
Allies of Mr Sunak, 42, have contacted friends of the former Health Secretary, 52, arguing that he does not have the support or ‘infrastructure’ and that they are competing for the same voters
Rishi Sunak used his campaign launch video to talk about how his mother, Usha, came to Britain from East Africa at the age of 15
He described how his mother studied to become a pharmacist
The former Cabinet minister also spoke of how his father, Yashvir, was an NHS GP in Southampton
Mr Sunak also shared pictures of his childhood in the three-minute long video
Mr Sunak grew up in Southampton and was head boy at Winchester College before going on to Oxford University
The ex-Chancellor’s campaign has the slogan ‘Ready For Rishi’ as he bids to replace Boris Johnson as PM
Mr Sunak’s campaign launch didn’t get off to an entirely smooth start when one of those Tory MPs backing him, Paul Maynard, erroneously posted on Twitter some instructions he appeared to have received from Team Rishi.
In a swiftly-deleted tweet, Mr Maynard posted: ‘If you’re happy, can you tweet and include the hashtag Ready4Rishi and crucially the website Ready4Rishi.com.’
But Mr Sunak was handed an early boost in his leadership campaign when a Opinium poll for Channel 4 News tonight showed he was the top pick of the Tory grassroots.
The poll of Conservative Party members found he was backed by a quarter (25 per cent) of those asked, just ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who was supported by 21 per cent.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was backed by 12 per cent of members, with Nadhim Zahawi – who replaced Mr Sunak as Chancellor this week – supported by six per cent.
The survey also found Mr Sunak (37 per cent) would narrowly beat Ms Truss (33 per cent) if they went head-to-head in a ballot of Tory members.
James Crouch, head of policy and public affairs at Opinium, said: ‘Rishi Sunak appears to be the favourite to replace Boris Jonson as Prime Minister, but Liz Truss is in a close second place.
‘At this early stage it’s all too common for a front runner to slip behind, but the closeness of these numbers show that no candidate has an easy ride into Number 10.’
One of those Tory MPs backing Mr Sunak, Paul Maynard, erroneously posted on Twitter some instructions he appeared to have received from Team Rishi – before then tweeting a corrected post
An Opinium poll, for Channel 4 News, of Conservative Party members showed Mr Sunak was the top pick of the Tory grassroots
Rishi Sunak, pictured with Channel 4 presenter Andrew Neil at last night’s Spectator summer party, today officially launched his Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak quit as Treasury chief on Tuesday night within minutes of Sajid Javid’s resignation as health secretary, which prompted claims the pair had coordinated their bombshell exits from Mr Johnson’s Cabinet
Mr Sunak was at the centre of a furious political row earlier this year when it was revealed that his billionaire heiress wife, Akshata Murty, had non-dom tax status
Ms Murty was this week photographed bringing hot drinks – in £38 mugs – and snacks to a press pack waiting outside her and her husband’s London home
Rishi Sunak: Once high-flying Chancellor who took a tumble in the spring
By David Wilcock, Deputy Political Editor for MailOnline
At the end of 2021 the Chancellor was the number one candidate to succeed Boris Johnson.
His largesse with taxpayers’ cash during the Covid crisis – furlough payments and other measures – and slick social media campaigns made him widely popular within the party and with the wider electorate.
It was a rapid rise to the top for a minister who only became Chancellor weeks before lockdown kicked in early in 2020.
But the popularity of ‘Brand Rishi’ has taken a tumble in 2022 amid a series of controversies and rows with No10 – culminating in his resignation this evening.
Quitting his role and abandoning Boris, may have helped save his tarnished reputation.
At the end of 2021 the Chancellor was the number one candidate to succeed Boris Johnson.
Rishi Sunak was hit by a political backlash over the news that his heiress wife Akshata Murty was domiciled in India for tax purposes
In the spring it was revealed his multi-millionaire heiress wife Akshata Murty was revealed to be living in Downing Street while having non-dom tax status.
She has legally avoided paying a huge UK tax bill by paying £30,000 a year to register as based in India.
He insisted she hasn’t ‘done anything wrong’ while accusing his critics of ‘smearing her to get at him’. She later agreed to pay full UK tax.
Later it emerged Mr Sunak, a father of two and former international banker, himself held a US Green Card for a year into his term leading the Treasury.
While the status would not save him any money on his tax bill, it carries a responsibility to make the United States ‘your permanent home’.
There were also a series of rows with No 10 after recovery spending and his involvement with Partygate: he received a £50 fine for attending Boris Johnson’s surprise – and rule-breaking – birthday party in No10 in June 2020, even though he claimed he was just passing through on his way to a meeting.
His supporters blamed No10 for embroiling him in the controversy, souring an already acidic relationship within Downing Street.
Here’s what Rishi Sunak said – in full – in his slick leadership campaign video
‘Let me tell you a story about a young woman almost a lifetime ago who boarded a plane armed with hope for a better life and the love of her family.
‘This young woman came to Britain where she managed to find a job, but it took her nearly a year to save enough money for her husband and children to follow her.
‘One of those children was my mother, aged 15. My mum studied hard and got the qualifications to become a pharmacist.
‘She met my dad, an NHS GP, and they settled in Southampton. Their story didn’t end there, but that is where my story began.
‘Family is everything to me and my family gave me opportunities they could only dream of.
‘But it was Britain, our country, that gave them and millions like them the chance of a better future.
‘I got into politics because I want everyone in this country to have those same opportunities to be able to give their children a better future.
‘Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation.
‘And the decisions we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will also have the chance of a better future.
‘Do we confront this moment with honesty, seriousness, and determination, or do we tell ourselves comforting fairy tales that might make us feel better in the moment but will leave our children worse off tomorrow?
‘Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.
‘That’s why I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister.
‘I want to lead this country in the right direction.
‘I ran the toughest department in government during the toughest times when we faced the nightmare of COVID.
‘My values are non-negotiable. Patriotism, fairness, hard work.
‘We’ve had enough of division. Politics at its best is a unifying endeavour, and I have spent my career bringing people together because that is the only way to succeed.
‘In the coming days and weeks, I will set out my vision for how we can build a better future for our country.
‘I’ve told you a bit about my story, but I’m running to be our next Prime Minister because it’s your stories that matter most.
Tugendhat ‘too left wing’ and ‘dodgy on Brexit’, ‘Bungling’ Ben Wallace is ‘the son of Boris’ and Poundshop Maggie Liz Truss is ‘too dangerous’: Tory fur flies as more than a DOZEN leadership contenders emerge
By James Tapsfield, Political Editor for MailOnline
The battle to succeed Mr Johnson is in danger of turning into a mud-slinging ‘wacky races’ with fears the Conservative Party will be plunged into chaos for months.
More than a dozen MPs are seriously mulling bids for the leadership after the PM’s bombshell exit, with ministers alarmed that they will ‘shred each other to pieces’ to gain an advantage.
How will the Tory leadership contest happen?
The race to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader – and consequently as PM – will get under way in earnest next week.
But the first issue will be setting the exact rules for the contest.
The powerful backbench 1922 committee is due to elect its new executive at the beginning of the week.
And the body’s first duty will then be to decide on how to conduct the leadership race.
Under the existing template, any candidate can feature on the ballot as long as they are nominated by eight MPs.
However, senior figures on the 1922 are pushing for this to be increased – perhaps to 20 or 25.
That would avoid a ‘grand national’ style field, with more than a dozen politicians seriously considering a tilt at the top job today.
MPs expect that they will start to vote on the candidates on Thursday, after a brief spell of hustings at Parliament and some intense lobbying in the tea room and corridors.
The normal format is for the lowest-scoring candidate to be ejected after each round – but in reality when they see which way the wind is blowing others also pull out.
Deals are frequently done to throw support behind other hopefuls, as happened when Matt Hancock opted to withdraw and support Mr Johnson in 2019.
Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 committee chair, is determined that the numbers will be whittled down to a final two by the time the Commons goes into recess on July 21.
This pair are then expected to go head to head in a national vote of the Tory membership.
Hustings events will be hosted in each region during August, with a postal ballot.
The winner should be announced in time for the return of Parliament at the beginning of September.
At this point the new leader will be able to command a majority in the House of Commons – and the Queen will invite them to take over as PM.
Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat officially launched his effort earlier today pledging ‘change’, and hinting that he would slash fuel duty and national insurance.
But ‘Blue-on-Blue’ attacks have already begun, with Mr Tugendhat branded ‘too left wing’ and ‘dodgy on Brexit’. An MP told MailOnline that Ben Wallace is the ‘son of Boris’ and ‘only knows about defence’.
Sajid Javid’s pitch has been judged as already over by some hypercritical colleagues who say he ‘completely lost the room’ while delivering his resignation statement in the Commons.
And Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – who has flown back from Indonesia to kick-start her campaign – is being dismissed by opponents as ‘bad, mad and frankly dangerous to know’.
Ms Truss is expected to pitch herself as the ‘female Boris’ in the Tory leadership race – a candidate who can win seats both in the South and the Red Wall. But critics have previously dismissed her as a ‘Poundshop Thatcher’.
Other MPs told MailOnline they were in despair about who to support, as and Priti Patel has failed to tackle the Channel migrant crisis.
A grumpy floating voter said they would not be able to plump for Mr Javid despite his attributed because he is ‘very wooden’. And Rishi Sunak was blasted by one rival who said it is ‘not obvious that he’s got an economic plan or is a tax cutter from his record’.
Attorney General Suella Braverman was slated for having ‘no name recognition’ with the public, while a backbencher said of former minister Steve Baker: ‘Every now and again he’s prone to crying. We don’t want a PM who blubs too much.’
Rehman Chishti, the Gillingham MP, has also surprised colleagues by suggesting he could add his name to the long list.
Backbencher Mark Jenkinson summed up the view of many with a joke candidacy announcement today.
He quipped that he had ‘sought counsel from those I can trust to blow smoke up my a***’.
‘That, when weighed against my own inflated sense of self-importance, leads me to conclude that I should throw my hat into the ring and stand for election as Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party,’ he wrote.
‘Over the next six weeks I will be available to promise you the moon on a stick. Ask and it shall be yours. Let me worry about how I deal with three chancellors and a cabinet of 160. It is having the answers to those questions that makes me the most suitable candidate.’
The politicians considering a run also include Nadhim Zahawi and Penny Mordaunt.
Although the PM’s exit was only cemented yesterday, many of the hopefuls have been cranking up campaigns for months – and have spent the last week desperately getting finalising teams.
But much will depend on the exact rules of the contest, which are due to be decided by the powerful backbench 1922 committee executive next week. They are believed to be looking at raising the threshold for how many MP nominations are needed to enter the ballot, which could block some less popular options.
MPs will whittle down the list in a series of votes over the next fortnight, before the final two candidates are put to the membership in a run-off. However, the wider party does not always get a say – in 2016 Theresa May was returned unopposed after her last rival Andrea Leadsom pulled out.
In a round of interviews this morning, newly-appointed Education Secretary James Cleverly has said it was ‘right’ that Mr Johnson resigned and called for a ‘quick’ leadership contest.
He told Sky News: ‘It’s right that he has stood down and it’s right that he has put a team in place to continue governing whilst the selection procedure flows for his successor.
‘And we should do that I think pretty quickly, pretty promptly.’
He added that Mr Johnson ‘has said that he is not going to make decisions that would limit the options for his successor, that would be wrong’.
Liz Truss (left) will pitch herself as the female Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race – a candidate who can win seats both in the South and the Red Wall.
New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (right) chats at the Spectator summer party in Westminster
Suella Braverman (left), the Attorney General, has thrown her hat in the ring for the Tory leadership contest – although she has been given slim odds. Jeremy Hunt (right) is also mulling another run
SO WHO WILL BE NEXT TO MOVE INTO No10?
LIZ TRUSS, 46 – Not declared
Foreign Secretary who has also been international trade secretary, justice secretary, chief secretary to the Treasury and Lord Chancellor.
Strengths: Popular with Tory grassroots for championing low taxes and free trade.
Weaknesses: Backed Remain but now claims to regret decision.
Odds (Betfair): 11.5
BEN WALLACE, 52 – Not declared
Former Army officer who has been Defence Secretary since 2019.
Strengths: Popular with grassroots Tories, particularly over the handling of the Ukraine war.
Weaknesses: Opposed Brexit and is not believed to be sure about running for leader.
RISHI SUNAK, 42 – Not declared
Ex-banker who was Chancellor until this week.
Strengths: Long-standing Brexit supporter who kept economy afloat during the pandemic.
Weaknesses: Questions about his personal wealth, behind recent tax rises.
SAJID JAVID, 52 – Not declared
Triggered this week’s wave of resignations by quitting as health secretary.
Strengths: Has served as Chancellor and home secretary.
Weaknesses: Backed EU membership and is seen as a wooden speaker.
JEREMY HUNT, 55 – Not declared
Ex-Cabinet minister who came second to Boris Johnson last time
Strengths: Seen as a competent minister who played a prominent role chairing the Health Committee during Covid.
Weaknesses: Another low-key performer, many on the right are dubious about his Brexit credentials.
SUELLA BRAVERMAN, 42 – Declared
The second ever female Attorney General who became the first Cabinet minister to receive paid maternity leave last year.
Strengths: Strong pro-Brexit views and has vowed to wage war on woke.
Weaknesses: Surprised many when she launched her leadership bid before Boris Johnson had quit.
PENNY MORDAUNT, 49 – Not declared
First female defence secretary who is currently a junior trade minister.
Strengths: Was a key figure in the Leave campaign and popular within the party.
Weaknesses: Has told MPs controversial mantra that ‘trans women are women’.
NADHIM ZAHAWI, 55 – Not declared
Dramatically promoted to Chancellor from education secretary this week.
Strengths: Successfully delivered the vaccine rollout.
Weaknesses: Accepted promotion then told Boris to quit.
PRITI PATEL, 50 – Not declared
Combative darling of the Tory grassroots
Strengths: Unshakeable Tory instincts and street-fighting attitude.
Weaknesses: A Marmite figure who some fear would turn off floating voters, and has lost standing over the Channel migrant response.
STEVE BAKER, 51 – Not declared
Former RAF engineer and junior Brexit minister.
Strengths: Chaired pro-Brexit ERG and challenged lockdown restrictions.
Weaknesses: Potentially alienating libertarian views.
TOM TUGENDHAT, 49 – Declared
Served in Iraq and Afghanistan, currently chairs the foreign affairs select committee.
Strengths: Already won support of several MPs.
Weaknesses: Voted Remain, has no ministerial experience.
JAKE BERRY, 43 – Not declared
Currently chairs the Northern Research Group of MPs.
Strengths: Popular among Red Wall MPs and keen on levelling up agenda.
Weaknesses: Admitted he was wrong to oppose Brexit.
However, 1922 committee Treasurer Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown warned that the decision should go to the full membership.
He told BBC’s Today programme: ‘In this case, I think there is a lot of competition.
‘And I would be surprised if it didn’t go to the membership in the country.
‘I think, actually, under these circumstances with the division in the party, I think it is a good thing that it goes to the to the membership so they have an opportunity to have their say and a vote.’
There have been calls for Mr Johnson to step aside immediately, but Sir Geoffrey said he believed ‘that ship has sailed’ and he will now stay as PM until a successor is appointed.
‘I think that ship has sailed I think yesterday, everybody (on) this board, they decided that Boris Johnson should remain and he has said very clearly that he won’t be making any major changes during that period. And I think that is a good thing,’ he said.
‘Those ministers who are coming back in a caretaker role, having had resigned (from) work, it will be a little awkward for them.
‘I think in an ideal world, Dominic Raab, as Deputy Prime Minister, should have been the caretaker prime minister, but that ship I think has sailed and we must we must now live with the fact that Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister until a successor can be voted on.’
Writing in the Telegraph today, Mr Tugendhat said: ‘This nation needs a clean start and a government that will make trust, service and an unrelenting focus on the cost of living crisis its guiding principles.
‘That is what the British people deserve and it is what we will be judged on. It cannot be achieved without a clean start – unsullied by the events of the past, but also with proven experience and leadership.’
Mr Tugendhat said ‘taxes, bluntly, are too high and there is an emerging consensus across the party that they must come down’.
‘We should immediately reverse the recent national insurance hike and let hard-working people, and employers, keep more of their money. Fuel tax must come down. And un-conservative tariffs, that push up prices for consumers, should be dropped.’
Yesterday’s cabinet meeting is said to have concluded with ministers banging tables in tribute to Mr Johnson.
Tories have been speculating that whoever eventually come out on top will have to cope with Johnson causing trouble for them.
One said: ‘He is a hugely charismatic person. He is a rock star and a big figure on the world stage. He is not going to fade away in the background.’
But another MP told MailOnline that Mr Johnson’s words would not carry weight any more: ‘I’m not sure whether anyone would want him to endorse them now.’
An ally of Johnson who was with him on Wednesday night said: ‘I’m angry with him, he could have done everything with an 80-seat majority but he’s blown it.’
‘There is nobody who enthuses me massively,’ said one former minister.
‘After Theresa everybody knew it was going to be Boris. But this time round there is nobody really.
‘A lot of people are just not known to the voters. They are not household names, and we are 12 years into government.’
Some Tories complained that Mr Wallace does not have the breadth of interest to rise higher.
‘He is bang on when it comes to defence but how much does he know about economic policy,’ one MP said.
There is also disquiet on the Tory benches about Mr Zahawi’s behaviour this week, after he accepted the job of Chancellor only to call for Mr Johnson to resign within 48 hours.
‘Nadhim has damaged himself very badly over the last few days,’ one senior Conservative told MailOnline.
‘The whole Nasty Nadhim thing.’
Ms Truss will land in Britain this afternoon after she cut short a trip to a G20 foreign ministers summit in Indonesia yesterday.
The minister, who is finalising plans for her campaign, will argue she can keep together the coalition of voters who backed Mr Johnson at the 2019 general election when he won a thumping majority.
A close ally said last night: ‘She is popular in both the Red Wall and the Lib Dem-facing marginals we need to keep hold of.’
In a swipe at Mr Sunak, who raised national insurance, Ms Truss will declare that she is a ‘low-tax’ Tory who will ‘get the economy moving again’. The ally added: ‘She is vastly experienced and knows how to drive difficult policy through Whitehall… She is tough and delivers and gets things done.’
Defence Secretary Mr Wallace is also planning to run for the top job after discussing a leadership bid with his family.
The former Army officer, 52, is expected to confirm his intentions in the coming days. He has emerged as a front-runner after a survey of Conservative Party members.
The father-of-three, who is separated from his wife, topped a YouGov poll with 13 per cent support, just ahead of Miss Mordaunt on 12 per cent, Mr Sunak on 10 per cent and Miss Truss on 8 per cent.
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was beaten by Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership contest, trailed in on 5 per cent – the same as new Chancellor Mr Zahawi.
Bookies installed Mr Wallace as favourite following the poll.
The MP for Wyre and Preston North has gained plaudits across the political spectrum for his handling of the war in Ukraine. Miss Mordaunt, who was the first female Defence Secretary before being fired by Mr Johnson, already has a campaign team in place.
The resignations of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid from Cabinet on Tuesday triggered the mass exodus which ultimately crippled Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Mr Sunak was regarded as a front-runner for the Tory crown before his stock took a tumble following disclosures earlier this year that his wife had non-dom status for tax purposes. Last night it was reported he has set up a temporary campaign base in a Westminster hotel.
It is understood that former Health Secretary Mr Javid and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps are seriously considering running.
Rivals last night gloated that Mr Zahawi’s campaign was ‘falling apart’ after he took the job of Chancellor only to call for Mr Johnson to go 24 hours later.
But his allies said he would pitch himself as a successful former businessman who had delivered Britain’s Covid vaccine rollout.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (right) and trade minister Penny Mordaunt (left) are among the bookies’ favourites to replace Mr Johnson, as the field of candidates begins to take shape
Nadine Dorries, right, next to Carrie Johnson and her daughter Romy outside 10 Downing Street on July 7. The culture secretary – one of the Prime Minister’s most stringent supporters – warned colleagues that they have to ‘keep the cabinet sailing steadily and keep the government running smoothly’
Sajid Javid, who stepped down as health secretary within minutes of Mr Sunak’s resignation, has 7/1 odds of taking his party’s reigns
Boris Johnson chairs a Cabinet meeting on Thursday after delivering his statement resigning as the leader of the Tories
Workington MP Mark Jenkison summed up the view of many with a joke candidacy announcement today
Former Territorial Army officer Mr Tugendhat, a backbench MP who heads the Commons foreign affairs committee, has already won the backing of several top Tories, including Theresa May’s ex-deputy Damian Green.
Last night it emerged that Kemi Badenoch, who quit as a Levelling Up Minister on Wednesday, was ‘actively considering running’.
A source close to the 42-year-old, who was first elected to Parliament in 2017, said: ‘Some MPs are urging Kemi to run and she has started the process of taking soundings.
‘She is speaking to MPs to find out what they are looking for in a new leader to see if she has it. A poll last night showed Mr Sunak is the only one of the main candidates who can beat Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in a head-to-head contest. His closest rival in the JL Partners poll was Mr Javid, who was three points behind Sir Keir.
Who are the runners and riders jostling to take over from Boris Johnson as Tory leader?
The early frontrunner, according to many bookmakers, with some offering odds as low as 9/4 on him getting the leadership, while another firm reported more than half of all bets in that market had been placed on Mr Wallace.
The latest YouGov poll also regards him as the favourite.
The Defence Secretary is thought to have significant support among Westminster colleagues who like his straight-talking and straightforward approach, though he does not have the cross-departmental experience of his rivals.
The Johnson loyalist, who served in the Scots Guards, remains a key voice in the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and this increased exposure could assist any leadership bid.
Ms Mordaunt was Mr Wallace’s predecessor as defence secretary, and the first woman to hold the post before being sacked by Mr Johnson shortly after becoming Prime Minister in 2019.
Ms Mordaunt has many strings to her bow, she is a Royal Navy reservist, the current trade minister and a former reality TV contestant, having appeared on the Tom Daley-fronted diving show Splash.
She played a prominent role in the Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and has previously reportedly enjoyed the backing of Dame Andrea Leadsom among others.
She remains among the early favourites, and second only to Mr Wallace in the YouGov poll.
One of the main front-runners, attracting odds of 4/1 with several bookmakers, the former chancellor’s rise from relative obscurity to household name came as he turned on the spending taps to protect jobs through the furlough scheme when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
His calm and measured delivery during televised Covid briefings, and his viral declaration of love for a popular soft drink, will have endeared him to those perhaps not always plugged in to the political goings-on, as well as his resignation on matters of principle on Tuesday.
But his stock took a tumble more recently following disclosures that his wife had non-dom status for tax purposes, and criticism that he was too slow to respond to the cost-of-living crisis.
The Foreign Secretary kept her powder dry as the Tory top brass turned on the mortally wounded Prime Minister, despite being a Johnson loyalist, though she did cut short a foreign trip to Indonesia to head back to Westminster as he announced his resignation.
Social media aficionado Ms Truss has made little secret of her leadership ambitions, with a series of high-profile interventions and photo opportunities in which she appeared to be channelling late PM Margaret Thatcher.
She has the experience of working across many Whitehall departments, while her hard line on Ukraine, insisting Russian forces must be driven from the country, and threats to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol with the EU play well with sections of the party.
Undeclared, but understood to be seriously considering a leadership bid, he is perhaps buoyed by the response to his clinical farewell speech in the Commons on Wednesday, after his and Mr Sunak’s double-resignation effectively kickstarted the slew of departures from government, thus hastening Mr Johnson’s demise.
State school-educated Mr Javid, known as ‘The Saj’ in some circles, is the son of a bus driver who arrived in England from Pakistan in the 1960s, and held ministerial roles in housing, business and culture before becoming chancellor, and then health secretary in the middle of the pandemic.
Mr Javid made it to the final four in the contest to replace Theresa May as Tory leader in 2019, but dropped out and subsequently endorsed Mr Johnson.
He told reporters after his resignation on Tuesday evening that he was looking forward to spending time with his family – but for how long?
An outside bet among the bookies, the former education secretary is regarded by some as a ‘safe pair of hands’ if other candidates prove too divisive.
Indeed, he was the man trusted to take on the broadcast round of interviews on Wednesday morning, on his first full day in his new job as chancellor, before later urging the PM to resign.
Iraqi-born Mr Zahawi was a successful businessman and came to wider prominence as vaccines minister during the pandemic where he was credited with playing a key part in the successful rollout of the jab.
Not a household name, but among the early contenders.
The multi-lingual chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee became the first to announce his intention to stand for leader should Mr Johnson be turfed out, with his declaration made in January, a position he repeated in Friday’s Daily Telegraph, saying he was putting together a ‘broad coalition’ offering a ‘clean start’.
His odds shortened almost immediately as a result.
The former soldier wrote in the paper: ‘I have served before, in the military, and now in Parliament. Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister.’
A Remainer in 2016, the former soldier has been a trenchant critic of Mr Johnson, a stance that would appear to have cost him any chance of ministerial preferment under the current leadership.
The former foreign secretary and ex-health secretary has been a persistent backbench critic of Mr Johnson and has called on the Prime Minister to quit.
Mr Hunt is widely expected to make a fresh bid for the leadership, having been runner-up to Mr Johnson in 2019, though is seen as a bit of a Thatcher reboot.
As chairman of the Commons Health Committee, he has used his position to make a number of critical interventions on the Government’s handling of the pandemic, although his strong support for lockdown measures will not have pleased all Tory MPs.
Prominent Brexiteer and former minister Steve Baker, a senior Tory backbencher, confirmed on Thursday that he is seriously considering putting himself forward for the top job.
He told PA that Tory blog ConservativeHome ‘consistently put me in their top ten for next Prime Minister, they sometimes put me in their top five’, but said it would be ‘very difficult’ to persuade colleagues to back him for the party-wide ballot without Cabinet experience.
Mr Baker successfully plotted to oust Theresa May as prime minister but, despite his credentials as a Brexit die-hard, he is not a household name.
The Attorney General launched an unlikely leadership bid as support for Mr Johnson crumbled around him on Wednesday night.
Ms Braverman, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, is regarded as something of an outsider for the leadership given the party grandees already tipped to be in the running.
A Suella Braverman for PM Twitter account has sprung up, with Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne becoming the first to tweet his support for her bid.
WE still love you, daddy! Sweet moment Boris is welcomed back into the arms of his son Wilf, two, inside Downing Street after finally facing the music and resigning
By Adam Solomons for MailOnline
Boris Johnson was pictured embracing his son Wilf before hugging wife Carrie and nine-month old daughter Romy after announcing his intention to resign at lunchtime yesterday.
The prime minister smirked at Wilf, two, after returning to Number Ten from the short speech given after 12.30pm.
Aides and ministerial colleagues applauded the doomed PM, with some reportedly crying at the news.
Images released by Downing Street overnight also showed Mr Johnson speaking with Ukrainian president Zelensky on the phone yesterday afternoon.
In another image, the prime minister is pictured looking down at his resignation speech solemnly.
After giving the address, Johnson returned to his study to plot his latest – and final – Cabinet.
Number Ten took the rare decision to release the images taken by photographer Andrew Parsons, which showed the prime minister in the immediate aftermath of his momentous speech.
Their official caption described Johnson’s family ‘comforting’ him following the statement.
Boris Johnson holds son Wilf, two, who already appears the spitting image of his father. The PM resigned at lunchtime yesterday
Mr Johnson embraced wife Carrie and baby daughter Romy, who was held in a carrier as she attended his resignation speech
Special relationship: Wilf was born just days after his father survived a life-threatening bout of Covid at St Thomas’s Hospital
After making his speech, Mr Johnson was applauded by aides and ministerial colleagues including Johnny Mercer (centre left), who was now been re-appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. The PM smirks at Wilf (below) as wife Carrie (right, in red) beams. Downing Street aide Ross Kempsell (furthest left) also applauds Mr Johnson
By yesterday afternoon, Jacob Rees-Mogg (centre) and Nadine Dorries (right of Mr Johnson) were among the only Cabinet ministers still in support of the PM’s continued tenure. Johnson is pictured conferring with colleagues after making his speech yesterday
Boris Johnson was pictured yesterday afternoon in conversation with President Zelensky, perhaps his last as prime minister
Downing Street photographer Andrew Parsons captured the moment Johnson strode out of Downing Street to give the speech
In another pensive image, Johnson goes through his statement in the minutes before stepping out in front of Number Ten
Admirers: standing in front of the podium and watched by close aides and Carrie with baby Romy (pictured, centre right), Mr Johnson pointed to his achievements since winning the 2019 general election. Staff reportedly cried before and afterwards
Mrs Johnson kisses nine-month-old Romy who was with her to hear the resignation speech yesterday. Ms Dorries is also present
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and Alister Jack, his most loyal trio of Cabinet lieutenants, feature prominently.
From a rocky start to political power couple: A timeline of Boris and Carrie Johnson’s relationship
2009: Carrie Symonds, then 21, joins the Conservative Party as press officer. Her association with Mr Johnson dates back to the early years, having worked on his successful re-election bid at City Hall in 2012.
February 2018: Boris, then still married to wife Maria Wheeler, is spotted with Carrie outside the Conservative party Black and White Ball at the Natural History Museum. It is thought to be the first time the pair were photographed together.
September 2018: News breaks that Boris has been kicked out of the marital home by his wife of 25 years amid reports he was seeing another woman.
First photo: Boris, then still married to Maria Wheeler, is spotted with Carrie outside a Conservative party fundraiser
June 2019: By now Boris and Carrie are living together in her flat in Camberwell, South East London. Reports emerge that police were called to the property after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging. Symonds could allegedly be heard telling Johnson to ‘get off me’ and ‘get out of my flat’.
Police initially said they had no record of a domestic incident at the address, but later issued a statement saying: ‘At 00:24hrs on Friday, 21 June, police responded to a call from a local resident in [south London]. The caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.
‘Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well. There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.’
Neither Boris nor Carrie have spoken publicly about the incident.
Front and centre: Boris Johnson is elected as the leader of the Conservative party. Carrie is pictured alongside his family as he arrives at Downing Street
June 2019: A few days later the couple were pictured holding hands in the countryside.
July 2019: The couple buy a £1.3million house in Camberwell after Boris sells the £3.7million mansion he shared with wife Marina.
23 July 2019: Boris Johnson is elected as the leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister. Carrie is pictured alongside his family as he arrives at Downing Street.
29 July 2019: Spokesperson confirms Carrie Symonds will move into Downing Street. They are the first unmarried couple to officially live at the address.
September 2019: Couple adopt a rescue dog, Dilyn.
December 2019: Boris Johnson wins the general election and the couple flies to St Lucia and Mustique to celebrate
February 2020: Boris Johnson’s divorce from Marina Wheeler is approved to proceed
29 February 2020: Boris and Carrie announce they are engaged and expecting a baby. A spokesperson for the couple said: ‘The prime minister and Miss Symonds are very pleased to announce their engagement and that they are expecting a baby in the early summer.’
27 March 2020: Boris Johnson tests positive for Covid-19 and is subsequently hospitalised.
29 April 2020: Couple welcome their son Wilfred. Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson in full – was named after Mr and Mrs Johnson’s grandfathers and partly in tribute to two doctors, Nick Hart and Nick Price, who helped save Mr Johnson’s life when he was in hospital with Covid in 2020.
Family life: Couple welcome their son Wilfred. Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson in full – was named after Mr and Mrs Johnson’s grandfathers and partly in tribute to two doctors, Nick Hart and Nick Price, who helped save Mr Johnson’s life
26 May 2020: Boris and Carrie Johnson wed at Westminster Cathedral with a small garden party the following day. News was made public a few days later.
31 July 2020: Couple announce they are expecting a second child and reveal they suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year.
June 2021: Carrie joins Boris at the G7 summit and introduces son Wilfred to President Biden and his wife Jill
9 December 2021: Carrie and Boris announce birth of a baby girl
16 December 2021: The couple announced they have named their daughter Romy Iris Charlotte Johnson.
Baby girl: Carrie and Boris announce birth of a baby girl. The couple later revealed they had named their daughter Romy Iris Charlotte Johnson (pictured with brother Wilf)
Mrs Johnson explained the choice of name: ‘Romy after my aunt, Rosemary. Iris from the Greek, meaning rainbow. Charlotte [after] Boris’s late mum whom we miss so much.’
June 2022: Carrie joins Boris at a series of high profile events including the Platinum Jubilee, a Commonwealth visit to Rwanda and the G7 summit. Daughter Romy joins her parents on the latter two.
7 July 2022: Boris Johnson announces he will resign following a slew of ministerial resignations.
Also present were Tory MPs Johnny Mercer, Sarah Dines, James Duddridge, and Downing Street staffers Andrew Griffith, Ross Kempsell and Charlotte Owen.
Front-row guests outside Downing Street yesterday included culture secretary Nadine Dorries and supportive backbencher Andrea Jenkyns.
After trying to weather the storm brought by Conservative MPs and numerous Cabinet ministers since Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson finally decided at 6am yesterday that he would step down.
A Downing Street official phoned BBC political editor Chris Mason while he was appearing on a bumper special episode of the Today programme, which ran from 6.30 till 9.45am.
Mr Johnson then wrote his resignation speech alone before delivering it at lunchtime.
Unusually somber in tone, Johnson nevertheless sniped Cabinet rivals and backbench rebels, claiming it was ‘herd instincts’ in Westminster that did him in.
Mr Johnson said: ‘In the last few days I have tried to persuade my colleagues it would be eccentric to change governments when we are delivering so much.
‘And when we have such a vast mandate, and when we’re actually only a handful of points behind in the polls, even in mid-term after quite a few months of pretty relentless sledging.
‘Of course it’s painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself.
‘But, as we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.
‘In politics, no one is remotely indispensable. Our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times.’
After delivering the speech, Johnson returned to his office, where he set about re-appointing the Cabinet after a slew of resignations over the past 48 hours.
Consensus-driven Commons committee chair Greg Clark was named the new Levelling Up Secretary, replacing sacked Michael Gove.
James Cleverly became Education Secretary after Nadim Zahawi was made Chancellor and his replacement, Michelle Donelan, stepped down after mere hours in the job.
Robert Buckland returned to the Cabinet as Welsh Secretary and Shailesh Vara took over as Northern Ireland Secretary.
Kit Malthouse was named the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a title also held by Mr Gove.
The PM’s resignation announcement effectively fires the starting gun on what looks set to be a chaotic leadership battle.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – expected to be a candidate – will cut short a visit to Indonesia to return to the UK.
It was revealed tonight that the ensuing Conservative leadership election will conclude by early September.
Proposals presented to the backbench 1922 Committee are set to be approved on Monday, the FT reported.
A spate of resignations sparked by Sajid Javid’s decision to step down on Tuesday evening virtually decapitated Johnson’s government – and threatened to deprive numerous Whitehall departments of any ministers at all.
George Freeman, who announced he was resigning as science minister this morning, said Mr Johnson must apologise to the Queen.
He also advised her to call for a caretaker prime minister, which would be an unprecedented step in modern constitutional history.
‘Boris Johnson needs to hand in the seals of office, apologise to Her Majesty and advise her to call for a caretaker prime minister,’ he said.
‘To take over today so that ministers can get back to work and we can choose a new Conservative leader to try and repair the damage and rebuild trust.’
One ex-minister told MailOnline: ‘We need to be rid of the Johnson poison as quickly as possible.’
Ex-No10 strategy chief Dominic Cummings wrote on Twitter: ‘Evict TODAY or he’ll cause CARNAGE, even now he’s playing for time & will try to stay.
‘No ‘dignity’, no ‘interim while leadership contest’.
‘Raab shd be interim PM by evening.’
Another former minister, Nick Gibb, said: ‘As well as resigning as Party leader the PM must resign his office.
‘After losing so many ministers, he has lost the trust and authority required to continue.
‘We need an acting PM who is not a candidate for leader to stabilise the government while a new leader is elected.’
The most serious blow perhaps came from Mr Zahawi, who just hours after reportedly threatening to resign if he wasn’t handed the keys to No 11, publicly called on the PM to quit.
He tweeted a resignation letter, signed on Treasury headed paper, and wrote: ‘Prime Minister: this is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and most important of all the country.
‘You must do the right thing and go now.’
A council of Cabinet ministers reportedly visited Johnson and urged him to go yesterday afternoon.
They included Home Secretary Priti Patel, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the BBC reported.
After Johnson refused, Mr Hart quit.
It appears the only Cabinet ministers who truly wished for Mr Johnson to stay were Ms Dorries and Brexit opportunities secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘It is good news for the country that Boris Johnson has resigned as Prime Minister.
‘But it should have happened long ago. He was always unfit for office. He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale.
‘And all those who have been complicit should be utterly ashamed.
‘The Tory party have inflicted chaos upon the country during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. And they cannot now pretend they are the ones to sort it out.
‘They have been in power for 12 years. The damage they have done is profound.’
In a sensational twist late last night, Mr Johnson summarily sacked Michael Gove with No10 sources branding the Levelling Up Secretary a ‘snake’ who had tried to tell the premier that the ‘the game was up’.
Constitutional experts have branded the ‘nuclear option’ of asking the Queen for a dissolution ‘deluded madness’ which would spark a crisis as the monarch would be obliged to turned down his request.
In his resignation letter, Mr Lewis – a former party chairman who has been Northern Ireland Secretary since early 2020 – warned divided Conservatives cannot win elections.
He said: ‘A decision to leave Government is never taken lightly, particularly at such a critical time for Northern Ireland. I have taken a lot of time to consider this decision, having outlined my position to you at length last night.
Mr Lewis told the Prime Minister that in recent months, the Conservative Party has been ‘relentlessly on the defensive, consumed by introspection and in-fighting’.
‘A divided Party cannot win elections. It cannot deliver for those who trusted us with their votes for the first time in 2019.’
Mr Lewis told Mr Johnson he had ‘given you, and those around you, the benefit of the doubt’.
Mrs Johnson, a former Conservative Party communications chief, re-wore a £325 red L.K. Bennett for the occasion and held her daughter Romy in a baby carrier
The couple tied the knot in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral in front of just a handful of guests in May 2021 but according to sources have planned a second event at Chequers at the end of July
‘I have gone out and defended this Government both publicly and privately,’ the Northern Ireland Secretary told Boris Johnson in his resignation letter.
‘We are, however, now past the point of no return. I cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to defend things as they stand now.
‘It is clear that our Party, parliamentary colleagues, volunteers and the whole country, deserve better.’
Ms Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent and another loyalist, said: ‘I have argued that you should continue as Prime Minister many times in recent months, but there are only so many times you can apologise and move on. That point has been reached.’
Johnson re-enters Downing Street after delivering the statement in which he announced his intention to resign as PM
The PM’s resignation announcement effectively fires the starting gun on what looks set to be a chaotic leadership battle
The PM is understood to have been ‘mainly alone’ as he wrote the resignation statement, which came at 12.30pm yesterday
Yesterday afternoon Mr Johnson thanked the public for letting him serve them as PM, describing it as ‘the best job in the world’