The ousting of Boris Johnson has unleashed the ‘hounds of hell’ and has sparked a bitter leadership race that will see Tories ‘shredding each other to pieces’, Nadine Dorries has warned as hopefuls gear up to replace him.
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’, The Times reports.
Her plea for stability came amid fears that the race to replace Johnson will turn into a ‘Grand National’ or become akin to eleven businesses competing for the same contract.
‘People will shred each other to pieces in the media. It’s going to be a bloodbath,’ she said.
One leadership hopeful, Liz Truss, 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, supporters said last night.
The Foreign Secretary is among more than a dozen MPs preparing to launch bids to be the next Prime Minister within days.
Others in the running include Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Ben Wallace, Nadhim Zahawi, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat.
While the events of this week appear to have cemented the Prime Minister’s demise, the race to replace him has effectively been going on for months.
‘Blue on blue’ attacks have already begun, with Rishi Sunak being 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’.
And one Conservative MP said that if Suella Braverman and Steve Baker were allowed to stand ‘we’re just going to look like the wacky races’, adding: ‘As for Sajid [Javid], his resignation speech told you everything you needed to know: we all started wishing him well but within minutes he completely lost the room.’
The MP also blasted Liz Truss as ‘bad, mad and frankly dangerous to know.’
Boris Johnson chairs a Cabinet meeting on Thursday after delivering his statement resigning as the leader of the Tories
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. Pictured: The Foreign Secretary was attending a G20 foreign ministers summit as Boris Johnson resigned yesterday
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) is the frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson, according to the bookies
Suella Braverman (pictured), the Brexit-backing Attorney General, has thrown her hat in the ring for the Tory leadership contest – although she has been given slim odds
It comes as:
- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ‘saddened’ by the departure of Mr Johnson, who he hailed as a ‘hero’;
- Foreign Secretary Liz Truss cut short a trip to Indonesia to fly back to the UK, where she is expected to launch a leadership bid pitching herself as a low-tax Tory who can hold Mr Johnson’s electoral coalition together;
- Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi faced a backlash from some Tory MPs after revealing he had privately told the PM to quit just 12 hours after publicly calling for him to stay;
- In the first of what could be many blue-on-blue attacks this summer, Jacob Rees-Mogg savaged Rishi Sunak, saying he was ‘not a successful chancellor, he was a high-tax chancellor’;
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was consulting his family about a leadership challenge after polls named him as the favourite among Tory activists;
- Former Army officer Tom Tugendhat will run and was emerging as the leading candidate of the Tory Remainers;
- A poll found that Mr Sunak was best placed to beat Labour, as he prepared to launch his own party leadership bid;
- Labour threatened to hold a formal vote of no confidence next week which could trigger a quick general election;
- A smirking Sir Keir was spotted at Wimbledon as Labour officials celebrated the Tories’ self-destructive removal of the man who repeatedly beat them at the polls;
- Vladimir Putin celebrated the departure of an implacable opponent, with the Kremlin saying Mr Johnson had been ‘hit by a boomerang launched by himself’;
- Attorney general Suella Braverman stayed in her Cabinet job despite calling on the PM to quit and announcing her leadership bid before he resigned;
- Sir John Major launched a bitter attack on the PM, calling on Tory MPs to kick him out of Downing Street immediately;
- Senior Tories were finalising the rules for a formal Tory leadership contest, which is expected to start next week and produce a new leader by the start of September.
Yesterday’s cabinet meeting is said to have concluded with ministers banging tables in tribute to Johnson.
Tories have been speculating that whoever eventually come out on top would have to cope with Johnson causing trouble for them.
Around 20 MPs were outside No 10, clapping and cheering as Boris Johnson finished his speech that said admitted ‘no-one is indispensable’ – less than three years after he won a landslide general election victory
Boris Johnson embraced his family and kissed wife Carrie after the under-pressure PM announced his intention to resign
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he arrives back into No10 after delivering his statement in Downing street after resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party
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.’
One of Johnson’s allies 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.’
Miss Truss will land in Britain this afternoon after she cut short a trip to a G20 foreign ministers summit in Indonesia yesterday.
Miss 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 former Chancellor Rishi Sunak who raised national insurance, Miss 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.
Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Trade Policy, is among the bookies’ favourites to replace Mr Johnson, as the field of candidates begins to take shape
Rishi Sunak, who stepped down as Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday at the very start of the coup against Mr Johnson, has emerged as an early favourite for the Tory crown
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
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.
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.
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’
SO WHO WILL BE NEXT TO MOVE INTO No10?
LIZ TRUSS, 46
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.
BEN WALLACE, 52
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
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
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.
SUELLA BRAVERMAN, 42
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
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
Dramatically promoted to Chancellor from education secretary this week.
Strengths: Successfully delivered the vaccine rollout.
Weaknesses: Accepted promotion then told Boris to quit.
STEVE BAKER, 51
Former RAF engineer and junior Brexit minister.
Strengths: Chaired pro-Brexit ERG and challenged lockdown restrictions.
Weaknesses: Potentially alienating libertarian views.
TOM TUGENDHAT, 49
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
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.