What does Boris’s resignation mean for Rishi?

Such is Boris Johnson’s magnetic draw that his resignation gambit is still being discussed largely in terms of what it means for Boris Johnson: will he be back in the Commons next year? Could he lead his party again? But it is time to ponder what it means for Rishi Sunak, who after all is the Prime Minister and therefore in conventional terms currently a far more important figure than Johnson. It does not take a genius to work out that Johnson resurfacing with a malevolent eye and then blowing his lid like Moby Dick attacking the Pequod is very bad news for the captain of the ship of state.

Why the Lib Dems want Boris back

Suddenly, out of the blue, comes a saviour. The Lib Dems have failed to capitalise on the downfall of Liz Truss. As the Tories’ polling hits record lows, all of the gains are going to Labour. This weekend, Ed Davey and his colleagues will be praying for the return of Boris Johnson. Boris was gold dust for the Lib Dems. In Ed Davey’s coveted Blue Wall seats across southern England, Boris was their greatest asset near the end of his premiership. These seats are traditionally Tory but lean Remain and socially liberal. They are also filled with the type of voters who would respond most warmly to Rishi Sunak’s ‘sensible’

James Kirkup

‘Bring Back Boris’ means the Conservatives are unleadable

Boris Johnson was finally thrown out of Downing Street because of his handling of sexual misconduct allegations by a political ally. Dozens of ministers quit his government over his lack of integrity. He remains subject to an investigation that could see him suspended from parliament for dishonesty. Dozens of Conservative MPs believe he is the best person to lead their party and Britain. The Bring Back Boris movement confirms that the Conservative party is now unleadable. Whoever ends up as prime minister next week will be unable to command a reliable majority of the party’s MPs. This puts a major question mark over any Conservative government’s ability to deliver the

Will Boris get the numbers he needs?

The question on everyone’s lips tonight is whether Boris Johnson can get 100 MP nominations by Monday. This is the bar that the 1922 committee have set. Johnson’s supporters have been coming out tonight at pace: he is up to 20-odd supporters already. But the question of whether he can get to 100 is difficult given the circumstances that led to his departure and the coming privileges committee investigation. Johnson’s advocates, though, think that if he can get that 100 and make it to the member’s round, then he will become the favourite. Rishi Sunak – whom I have been friends with for a long time – and Penny Mordaunt both ran

Boris Johnson was a terrible strongman

The ejection of Boris Johnson from Downing Street today proves that the UK has not gone the way of Donald Trump’s United States, Viktor Orbán’s Hungary or Narendra Modi’s India. For all our faults, the strongman model of leader ends in farce rather than fascism here. Liberal critics ought to be big enough to concede that Conservative MPs – more than any opposition party, movement or institution – saved us from populist authoritarianism. No doubt they did so for impure and self-interested reasons, but this is politics and it is deeds – not motives – that matter most. Johnson’s failure to impose his will on his parliamentary party was his

Who will fill the Boris void?

Boris Johnson’s last set piece speech today was typical him. There were references to Ladybird books, attempts to blame the last Labour government, not much detail but lots of optimism about how things are about to get better. Johnson has so dominated British politics these past few years that it is hard to imagine it without him. (Of course, he won’t disappear – which will cause its own problems for his successor – but he’ll no longer be PM). As I say in the magazine this week, his absence will reshape the political landscape because his presence defined it. Keir Starmer has relished attacking Johnson, but he must now pivot. In normal circumstances

Advice to my successor

Boris Johnson has vacated the office of Prime Minister for Liz Truss. Spectator readers may recall his handover notes from the last time he stepped down from one of the best jobs in the world. Read his final piece as The Spectator’s editor here (published 17 December 2005). It is an eternal and reassuring fact of human nature that when an editor announces that he is stepping down from a great publication, there is not the slightest interest in what he plans to do with his life, or even who he was. I have received many phone calls from friends and colleagues since announcing last Friday that this would be my last edition, and

Penny Mordaunt is more like Boris than you think

As the Tory leadership candidates prepare for tonight’s debate on Channel 4, I find my mind turning back to the Cleggmania that followed Britain’s first televised election debate. As I say in the Times today, Penny Mordaunt’s current momentum feels a bit like things did in 2010: a previously little known politician is shooting to prominence. Only 16 per cent of Tory voters can recognise Mordaunt but she is now in with a serious shot of becoming PM. Mordaunt’s rise is a product of the unique circumstances in today’s Conservative party. She is managing to have her cake and eat it. She has served in the cabinet, but not Boris Johnson’s cabinet. She made clear for

Ukrainians are in mourning for Boris

Boris Johnson’s support for Ukraine looked like a gimmick for many in Britain. Whenever the PM was in trouble, he called president Zelensky. When things got too much in Westminster, Boris popped up in Kyiv. But for Ukrainians, Boris’s backing of Ukraine is no joke: he is a national hero. He is the most popular foreign politician: his approval ratings are 90 per cent, only 3 per cent behind Zelensky. He recently became an honorary citizen of Odessa. Four streets are named after him, and one cafe in the capital even makes a ‘Boris Johnson’ croissant (with vanilla ice cream on top, which is supposed to look like his hair).

James Kirkup

History won’t look kindly on Boris

‘Them’s the breaks’. Those three words speak volumes about Boris Johnson’s ability, his character and his fears. The words show Johnson retains the talents that made him a successful columnist. I know a lot of people don’t like this, but he was a good columnist, in the sense that he consistently said things that people were interested in hearing and talking about. Amid the eternal babble of the media, being able to find a phrase, a word, a sentence or a paragraph that captures attention and captures ideas – consistently – is no small skill. ‘Them’s the breaks’ is already doing exactly what its author intended. It’s becoming the headline on

The 57 Tory ministers who resigned – forcing Boris to go

Boris Johnson has announced that he is resigning as Prime Minister after facing a tide of ministerial resignations. Below is the full list of cabinet ministers, junior ministers and other government employees who resigned, forcing the Prime Minister to act. Cabinet ministers who have resigned from Boris Johnson’s government: 1. Oliver Dowden, party chairman (5.35 a.m. 24 June) 2. Sajid Javid, health secretary (6.02 p.m. 5 July) 3. Rishi Sunak, chancellor (6.10 p.m. 5 July) 4. Simon Hart, Wales Secretary (10.30 p.m. 6 July) 5. Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary (6.49 a.m. 7 July) 6. Michelle Donelan, Education Secretary, (8.53 a.m. 7 July) Junior ministers, trade envoys and party officials who have

Boris skewered – for one last time?

A brutal encounter at the Liaison Committee this afternoon. Boris was grilled for two hours by a gang of aggressive MPs, (many of them Tories), who were drooling and panting for him to quit. But it wasn’t until the final moments that the session caught fire. Darren Jones took the first chunk out of the PM.  ‘How’s your week going?’ asked the Labour MP mildly. ‘Terrific, like many other weeks.’ ‘Did Michael Gove come in and tell you to resign today?’ ‘I’m here to talk about what the government is doing.’ Boris brushed off a similar attack from the SNP’s Angus MacNeil. ‘The game’s up. Will you still be prime

Isabel Hardman

Boris isn’t ready to go

Boris Johnson’s final hours as Prime Minister have been undignified. We do not yet know quite how this will end, but we know he will eventually have to quit. There is a delegation of cabinet ministers in Downing Street waiting for him – more here. Johnson found out about this group while he was in the liaison committee hearing, and was confronted about it by Darren Jones. His response shows that he is not going to accept the first plea from this cabinet delegation. He burbled on about the cost of living and how he wasn’t going to ‘give you a running commentary’ on political issues. This underlines the point

James Forsyth

Is the end nigh for Boris?

Boris Johnson is now facing a situation where if he doesn’t resign he will face more cabinet resignations. Johnson is currently in front of the liaison committee, but when he returns to his office he will have a delegation of cabinet ministers waiting to see him who will him he is done and that he must resign. When I asked one ‘Is it over?’, they simply replied ‘yes’. If Johnson won’t go, he will face more cabinet resignations than he can fill. Leaving junior ministerial posts unfilled is bad, but it is simply not credible to not be filling cabinet posts. Remarkably one of the ministers who will tell Johnson

Freddy Gray

Who says Boris has to go?

As the cameras burped and clicked, as an aggravated nation watched, Boris Johnson announced that he was giving up. ‘Let us seize this chance and make this our moment to stand tall in the world,’ he said. ‘That is the agenda of the next Prime Minister of this country. Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that, having consulted with colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.’ That was June 2016, you’ll remember. Johnson’s abrupt volte-face was a jaw-dropping moment; nobody saw it coming. The press conference was supposed

Boris ‘forgot’ about Pincher allegations, claims minister

The government’s line yesterday on what Boris Johnson knew about Chris Pincher’s behaviour kept changing. Today, it’s quite hard to find anything that could reasonably be described as a ‘line’. More of a messy scribble. After Simon McDonald’s explosive intervention this morning, the ‘line’ had to change from Boris Johnson not being informed of any specific complaints, because now there was a report of an official complaint which McDonald alleges the Prime Minister was indeed briefed on. So what did it change to? As ever in these circumstances, Michael Ellis, the minister for defending the indefensible and holding lines even as they change, made his way into the chamber to answer

Nicola Sturgeon has put Boris Johnson in a tight corner

Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that she will not contemplate breaching the rule of law by holding an independence referendum was pretty blatant trolling of Boris Johnson, given the multiple allegations he faces of being less than scrupulous in following domestic and international law. But Sturgeon also put Johnson and the Tory party in a tight corner by asking the Lord Advocate to petition the Supreme Court in London to determine the legality of a referendum. If the Supreme Court rules her way, then there will be the mother of all constitutional crises if Boris Johnson continues to reject the lawfulness of any vote by the Scottish parliament to hold a poll on

What will the anti-Boris rebels do now?

Looking at these Tory losses, it is hard not to conclude that the rebels would have got the 180 votes they needed to oust Boris Johnson if they had been organised enough to wait until after the by-elections before going for a vote of no confidence. But having had a vote two weeks ago, it is not credible to suggest changing the rules immediately to allow another one. However, judging from the conversations I have had with Tory MPs this morning, more of them would now like the option of having another vote sooner than a year from now. Some talk about the autumn, others about March. In a way, Oliver

Where’s Boris’s plan to stop the economic chaos?

Interest payments on the national debt rose 70 per cent last month to £7.6 billion (compared with a year earlier) – largely because of the impact of inflation on income paid to holders of index-linked gilts, which are inflation-protected government bonds. More worryingly, this was 49 per cent more than the official forecast made in March by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). It suggests the OBR’s forecast that the government will have to pay £87.2 billion in interest payments (a colossal sum) may be too low, especially since the ONS is not factoring in the most recent inflation figures in its calculations of the monthly bill. Little wonder Rishi Sunak says ‘rising

Geidt of the long knives: what the PM’s ethics adviser’s resignation means

Boris Johnson has lost his second ethics advisor since entering No. 10. This evening Lord Geidt announced his resignation as the Prime Ministers’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests: ‘With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.’ It’s clearly not good news, yet the timing could have been worse There have been rumours for some time that Geidt – who previously served as the Queen’s private secretary – could be on the brink of resigning. He was brought in last April to replace Sir Alex Allan, who quit the role in late 2020 after Priti Patel, the Home