Boris Johnson pledges no big policy changes before departureon July 7, 2022 at 9:39 pm

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After a momentous day at Westminster, Boris Johnson says he will stay in No 10 until his successor is chosen – despite growing calls for him to go now.

Boris JohnsonImage source, Getty Images

Boris Johnson has promised his cabinet he will not use his remaining time as prime minister to make “major changes of direction”.

The PM has caved in to pressure from ministers to quit as Tory leader but wants to stay in No 10 until the party chooses who should replace him.

His collapse in support has prompted some Tories to urge him to go now.

But a newly-promoted cabinet minister says Mr Johnson has agreed to carry on as a “caretaker” prime minister.

A timetable for a Tory leadership contest will be announced next week, but potential contenders are already jockeying for position.

There is no set duration for such a contest, but a new leader, who will also become the prime minister, is expected by September.

So far, Attorney General Suella Braverman is the only Tory MP to declare she will stand, and Steve Baker has said he is “seriously” considering running.

They are expected to be joined by more candidates in the coming days – although deputy PM Dominic Raab has ruled himself out.

Michael Gove, who was fired as levelling up secretary after calling on Mr Johnson to quit, will also not be running.

Sajid Javid, whose departure as health secretary on Tuesday triggered the avalanche other resignations that forced Mr Johnson into quitting, is seriously considering standing, the BBC has been told.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was part of a group of rebel cabinet ministers who told Mr Johnson to resign, is also seriously considering a run.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says if Mr Johnson does not step down immediately, his party would table a vote of no confidence in the government in Parliament.

Former PM Sir John Major is among Tories suggesting Mr Johnson should quit as PM immediately, arguing it would be “unwise” for him to stay until he is replaced.

Sir John has suggested to party bosses the leadership contest should be speeded up, or if not deputy PM Dominic Raab should become caretaker PM.


Boris Johnson resignation


At a cabinet meeting earlier, Mr Johnson told ministers they were “obliged to deliver on what we have already agreed,” and it was “not for me to do a major change of direction” during his remaining time in Downing Street.

“I don’t expect you will be browbeaten by No 10 to do radical or strange new policies,” he told them, but he added there was “no excuse to take your foot off the pedal”.

Mr Johnson joked that the team around the table, which included several new faces to fill posts vacated by recent resignations, that they were his “best cabinet ever”.

He also said that “major fiscal decisions” should be left to the next prime minister, according to Downing Street.

A big economic speech next week involving Mr Johnson and his chancellor, at which they were set to new out their approach to rising livings costs, has been cancelled.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, newly-promoted Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland said Mr Johnson had agreed to serve as a “caretaker” prime minister.

“That is very, very clear. And that is what cabinet established clearly today,” he added.

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Mr Johnson’s departure followed a mass revolt by ministers over his leadership, sparked by his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher.

His leadership, however, had been steadily damaged over recent months, including over the Partygate scandal and his fine for breaking his own lockdown laws.

In his resignation speech in Downing Street, Mr Johnson said he had fought to stay in post because of his “obligation” to deliver on his “incredible mandate” from the 2019 election.

He added it would be “painful” not to deliver on “so many ideas and projects,” blaming his departure on the “herd instinct” at Westminster.

He added: “In politics, no one is remotely indispensable.

“I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.”

He cited taking the UK out of the EU and the government’s Covid vaccine programme as among his achievements in office.

Addressing the Ukrainian people, he said: “We in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes.”

Mr Johnson has also spoken to President Zelensky of Ukraine, reassuring him his successor would remain as committed to Ukraine as he said he had been. Both leaders described each other as “heroes”.

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Analysis box by Nick Eardley, political correspondent

Can Boris Johnson really stay in office until the autumn? I think the answer this afternoon is maybe.

Some MPs really don’t want it to happen. They are furious at what has happened in the last few days and feel there is too much bad blood. They are looking at what they can do to hasten the departure.

But not everyone feels that way – and even among the prime minister’s staunchest critics there is a sense that it would be too hard to remove him. Senior figures who are preparing to back leadership bids in the next few days say a bit time to discuss ideas and policy might not be a bad thing.

The plan at the moment is to whittle a long list of candidates down to two in the next fortnight, with a leadership contest then taking place over the summer break. A new PM could then be put into office in September. Some MPs I’ve spoken to who are hardly fans of the PM are prepared to accept that.

It’s also not clear how the PM would be removed early. Would the Conservative Party still have the thirst for a coup, just to get rid of Mr Johnson a few weeks early?

I think the prime minister telling cabinet that he will back off major policy changes will calm some nerves.

So there’s a fair chance Boris Johnson remains PM until September.

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How the Conservative Party elects a new leader (short)
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