Moment Chancellor Zahawi found out ANOTHER minister had quit on BBC

Moment new Chancellor Zahawi found out ANOTHER minister had quit live on BBC this morning while insisting that there is ‘no vacancy in No10’

  • Boris Johnson faces a desperate battle to cling on after Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid quit Cabinet yesterday
  • After Sunak and Javid quit – Boris moved quickly to replace them with Nadhim Zahawi and Steve Barclay
  • Despite massive pressure on him to resign, Mr Johnson insists he has no intention of leaving Downing Street
  • Mr Javid is due to make potentially shattering resignation statement in the Commons after the PMQs session
  • Follow all the latest dramatic developments in Westminster here as the Tories teeter on the brink of civil war 

This is the uncomfortable moment Boris Johnson’s new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi learned of two resignations live on the BBC as the Tory leader desperately tries to clings on to his job as ministers quit en masse and he was battered in the Commons.

Mr Zahawi was in the middle of a grilling by Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme when he was informed that Children’s minister Will Quince and junior transport minister Laura Trott had joined the exodus, slamming No10’s ‘inaccurate’ claims fed to them by No 10 about the Chris Pincher scandal.

Asked whether it meant Mr Johnson is ‘over’, a sombre-looking Mr Zahawi responded: ‘I am deeply sorry to see colleagues leave government.’ 

Responding to Ms Trott’s resignation, he said: ‘I’m sorry to lose any Conservative and of course sorry to lose a talented member of Parliament like Laura Trott.

‘What I would say to her is the way you deliver trust is by delivering outcomes for people.

‘They want to see us focus on the economy and stewardship of the economy, rebuilding the economy, growing the economy, on national security abroad.

‘We’ve got war raging on our continent and, of course, at home, 13,500 police officers are recruited and, of course, the backlog that Steve Barclay will deal with in the NHS.’

He added: ‘I’m sorry to see Will Quince go. He was my children and families minister and a great minister. All I would say to colleagues is people don’t vote for divided teams. We have to come together.’ 

YouGov polls suggest 69 per cent of Brits want Boris to resign but few have confidence that he will heed the calls

Children’s minister Will Quince joined the exodus saying he had repeated ‘inaccurate’ information from No10 about the Chris Pincher allegations

Boris Johnson received cheers and some boos as he arrived in the Commons chamber. Gaps could be seen on the Conservative benches as Prime Minister’s Questions got under way.

New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack were among Boris Johnson’s allies on the frontbench.



Rishi Sunak (Chancellor)

Sajid Javid (Health Secretary)

Alex Chalk (Solicitor General)

Victoria Atkins (Prisons minister)

John Glen (City minister) 

Robin Walker (Schools minister)

Will Quince (Children’s minister)

Nicola Richards (PPS)

Jonathan Gullis (PPS)

Saqib Bhatti (PPS)

Virginia Crosbie (PPS)

Theo Clarke (PPS)

Bim Afolami (PPS)

Laura Trott (PPS)

Andrew Murrison (Trade Envoy) 


Dominic Raab

Ben Wallace

Priti Patel

Liz Truss

Brandon Lewis

Michael Gove

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Therese Coffey

Nadine Dorries

Nadhim Zahawi

Michelle Donelan


George Eustice

Penny Mordaunt 

City minister John Glen and schools minister Robin Walker have also joined their former colleague in walking out. Mr Glen said he had a ‘complete lack of confidence’ in Mr Johnson, while Mr Walker said the government was being ‘overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity’. 

More junior aides have also been voting with their feet as the PM faces another brutal 24 hours, running the gauntlet of PMQs at noon before a three-hour grilling from the powerful Liaison Committee – including some of his fiercest critics. 

MailOnline understand Mr Javid will make what could be a highly damaging resignation statement in the Commons this afternoon, although Mr Sunak is not planning to use the platform. It will raise fears in No10 he could try to emulate Geoffrey Howe’s parting shot in 1990 which helped topple Margaret Thatcher.

Mutinous Tories are urging the chair of the backbench 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady, to step in and tell the premier his time is up. They are vowing to change the party’s rules so he can be ousted if he tries to carry on.

Mr Quince tweeted: ‘With great sadness and regret, I have this morning tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister after I accepted and repeated assurances on Monday to the media which have now been found to be inaccurate.’ 

Senior backbenchers Robert Halfon and Chris Skidmore, as well as Red Wall MP Lee Anderson have also broken cover to say they have lost confidence in Mr Johnson.  

But despite fears of massive damage to the Conservative brand Mr Johnson is showing no signs of conceding, apparently responding ‘f*** that’ when asked by aides about the possibility. 

He told a meeting of Tory MPs last night that he wants to get on with cutting taxes, suggesting it had been Mr Sunak holding him back on the issue.

And the Mail+ revealed Mr Johnson has told friends people need to ‘stop bickering’.  

‘I’m not going anywhere,’ he said. ‘I’m going to smash on and deliver for the people who gave us a massive mandate.’

Mr Zahawi – installed within hours of the resignations last night as the PM attempted to steady the ship – was sent out to broadcast studios to show support this morning. 

He denied that he had threatened to quit in order to be handed the coveted No11 post, and asked if he wanted to take over from Mr Johnson he replied: ‘There is no vacancy.’ 

He told Sky News: ‘You don’t go into this job for an easy life, sometimes it’s easy to walk away, but it’s important to deliver for the country.’

The PM has been dubbed the ‘Greased Piglet’ for his ability to escape seemingly terminal political situations, but even former allies fear he might be cornered this time.

In more signs of support ebbing away, Laura Trott has quit as a ministerial aide. 

A Government source insisted that Mr Zahawi – promoted from Education Secretary in the chaos following the double-resignation – is the ‘adventurous and buccaneering chancellor Britain needs’.

And Mr Johnson himself delivered another swipe at Mr Sunak, claiming he had been a block on easing the tax burden.

He told a hastily-convened meeting of Tory MPs last night: ‘I know you’re all avidly in favour of tax cuts and tonight’s events might make that a bit easier to deliver.’ 

The Government source said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has long coveted No11, was doing a ‘fabulous job’ but was ‘too critical to move’ given the crisis in Ukraine and the Northern Ireland Protocol row.

The PM appointed his chief of staff Steve Barclay to replace Mr Javid as Health Secretary. 

Universities minister Michelle Donelan was promoted to Cabinet to replace Mr Zahawi.

The departure of two such senior ministers triggered speculation that the PM might face a mass walkout. Mr Javid said the public expected integrity and competence and warned Mr Johnson that voters were ‘concluding that we are now neither’.

Mr Sunak hinted at differences over tax and spending and said the public had a right to expect the Government to conduct itself ‘properly, competently and seriously’.

At a Cabinet meeting yesterday, the PM’s top team were pictured looking grim-faced at the latest crisis to engulf the Government.

One minister told the Mail: ‘You’ve seen the pictures haven’t you? It was a case of ‘where are the cyanide pills?” But a string of senior figures quickly confirmed they would be staying, giving Mr Johnson a glimmer of hope that he could survive. 

Andrew Mitchell, a former chief whip, compared Boris Johnson with Rasputin.

‘It’s a bit like the death of Rasputin. He’s been poisoned, stabbed, he’s been shot, his body’s been dumped in the freezing river and still he lives,’ the Conservative MP told BBC Newsnight.

He was adamant that it was ‘over’ for the Prime Minister.

‘This is an abnormal Prime Minister – brilliantly charismatic, very funny, very amusing, big, big character, but I’m afraid he has neither the character nor the temperament to be our prime minister.’

It came after the release of a damaging letter by Lord McDonald of Salford which gave critics of Mr Johnson further ammunition over his appointment of alleged groper Chris Pincher to the whips office.

In his resignation letter, Mr Sunak warned that ‘we cannot continue like this’ and he was ready to sacrifice his political career.

‘The public rightly expect Government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously,’ he wrote.

Meanwhile, Mr Javid questioned Mr Johnson’s integrity, competence and ability to act in the national interest. 

Sajid Javid (pictured leaving home today) is expected to make a resignation statement in the Commons this afternoon – but Rishi Sunak is not set to use the platform to spell out his reasons

Tory rebels are urging 1922 committee chair Graham Brady (pictured centre) to step in and tell Mr Johnson to go. The PM last month survived a ballot by a margin of 211 to 148 and in theory has a 12-month grace period before another challenge

In his resignation letter (left), Mr Sunak told the PM that ‘we cannot continue like this’. Meanwhile, Mr Javid (right) publicly questioned Mr Johnson’s integrity, competence and ability to act in the national interest

The double resignation came moments after the airing of a pool clip in which Boris gave a grovelling apology for appointing Chris Pincher

6.00pm – Mr Johnson releases pool clip taking responsibility for hiring alleged groper Chris Pincher as whip

6.02pm – Sajid Javid announces resignation as Health Secretary on his Twitter – saying he could not serve under Mr Johnson in ‘good conscience’.

6.11pm – Rishi Sunak announces his resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer – saying that the public ‘expect government to be conducted properly’.

6.31pm – Former Johnson adviser and adversary Dominic Cummings tweets ‘#RegimeChange’ indicating a belief that Mr Johnson’s time as Prime Minister is up.

7.13pm – UK trade envoy to Morocco Andrew Murrison MP resigns his post.

7.29pm – Conservative Party vice-chair Bim Afolami announces his resignation live on TalkTV’s The News Desk

7.48pm – Red Wall Tory MP Jonathan Gullis resigns as a PPS in the Northern Ireland Office – launching an attack on Johnson

7.51pm – Saqib Bhatti MP quits as a PPS in the Department of Health and Social Care

8.27pm – Nicola Roberts MP resigns as a Department for Transport PPS – saying she did not recognise the current Conservative party.

8.47pm – Mr Johnson’s chief of staff Steve Barclay announced as Health Secretary

8.48pm – Nadhim Zahawi and Michelle Donelan are spotted entering No.10 Downing Street

8.55pm – Virginia Crosbie MP resigns as a PPS for the Welsh Office.

9.40pm – Nadhim Zahawi is announced as Chancellor of the Exchequer – with Michelle Donelan replacing him as Education Secretary

10.02pm – Theo Clarke resigns as UK trade envoy to Kenya.

10.47pm – Alex Chalk resigns as Solicitor General.

In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Zahawi was pressed on whether he wants to be leader after Mr Johnson.

‘There is no vacancy,’ he said.

He added: ‘First of all, I will be working very hard to make sure that this team continues to deliver. The Prime Minister is focused on delivery, delivery, delivery.’

Pressed on whether his reason for taking the job was to do with personal ambition, he said: ‘No, as I said to you, sometimes walking away may give you some respite, dare I say, but the idea that you have to deliver for the country, I think, is the right thing to do.’

On Mr Quince’s resignation, Mr Zahawi told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘He felt let down, clearly. All I would say to my colleagues is people don’t vote for divided teams.’ 

Mr Zahawi said he is going to ‘look at everything’ when asked about his tax plans.

The new Chancellor said ‘nothing’s off the table’ when pressed on his vision for corporation tax.

Asked what immediate plans he had made with the Prime Minister when it came to cutting taxes and tackling inflation, he told Sky News: ‘As my first day in the job, the conversation we had is my task is to rebuild the economy and to grow the economy.

‘I will look at everything to make sure that we continue to be on the side of people.’

Pressed on his plans for corporation tax specifically, he said: ‘I will look at everything. There’s nothing off the table. I want to be one of the most competitive countries in the world for investment.

‘I know that boards around the world, when they make investment decisions, they’re long-term, and the one tax they can compare globally is corporation tax. I want to make sure that we are as competitive as we can be whilst maintaining fiscal discipline.’

The exits of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid – which aides of both men claim were not coordinated – came despite Mr Johnson frantically trying to head off the crisis with a grovelling apology over his appointment of shamed MP Mr Pincher as deputy chief whip.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, trade minister Penny Mordaunt, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak are the bookies’ favourites if there is a leadership contest.

Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons justice committee, told Times Radio that Johnson’s position was ‘untenable’ but ‘he may well seek to cling on’ and said he will do damage to the Tories for as long as he does so.

The 1922 committee, which sets rules for the parliamentary party, is expected to announce today that it will hold elections for executive positions next Wednesday.

Supporters and opponents of Mr Johnson will battle for the places so they can influence whether he faces another confidence vote, which could happen almost immediately. 

The PM last month survived a ballot by a margin of 211 to 148 and has a 12-month grace period before another challenge. 

But since then there has been a fresh bout of crisis, with disastrous defeats in the Tiverton and Wakefield by-elections, and his critics are plotting to change the rules to enable another vote before the summer recess.

Tory rebels yesterday revealed they were submitting letters of no confidence to Sir Graham so there can be an immediate confidence vote – if the rules are changed.

If the 12-month grace period is removed, a leadership challenge will take place if 54 of the party’s 358 MPs put in letters. Mr Johnson’s critics would then need more than half of the party’s MPs to back removing him in a subsequent confidence vote.

If the leader fails to get a majority, he or she resigns and cannot stand in the contest.

Mr Johnson will face off against Keir Starmer (left) at PMQs this afternoon during what promises to be a gruelling day. Chris Skidmore is one of the latest MPs to withdraw confidence in the premier (right)

Mr Zahawi was trailed by media and protesters as he began his first day at the Treasury 

A Downing Street-issued photo of Mr Johnson appointing Mr Zahawi as Chancellor in the Cabinet Room last night


Lord Heseltine gloated last night that if Boris Johnson goes, Brexit will too.

He claimed the departure from the EU had been a disaster, and the Tories must change course to stay in government.

Asked if the party would oust a proven vote-winner, he told the BBC: ‘It has an instinct for survival. They know that under Boris they will not win the next election.’ The Remainer, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet but lost the whip in 2019 after backing the Lib Dems in European Parliament elections, said: ‘The cancer at the heart of this dilemma is Brexit. If Boris goes, Brexit goes.

Lord Heseltine, whose Henley seat was taken by Mr Johnson in 2001, said he liked the PM, but added: ‘That is often the case with real rogues – they can be entertaining… providing you can live with the lack of integrity.’

A snap YouGov poll last night found seven in 10 Brits believe Mr Johnson should resign, while a majority who voted Conservative in 2019 also want him gone. 

Ben Wallace has been consistently the most popular potential leadership contender in regular surveys by the ConservativeHome website.

In the latest poll this week, 15.8 per cent said the Defence Secretary should lead the party, just ahead of Penny Mordaunt on 15.5 per cent and Liz Truss on 13.9 per cent.

Tom Tugendhat, who is chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, was backed by 7 per cent of members, with Mr Zahawi on 6.6 per cent and former leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt on 6.4 per cent.

Although the poll is not entirely scientific, it is closely watched by MPs and ministers. 

Leadership contenders need two nominations from colleagues to put themselves forward.

A series of votes would be held among the party’s MPs to determine which two candidates end up on the ballot paper.

In the last contest in 2019, 66 per cent of members chose Mr Johnson over Mr Hunt.

Mr Johnson’s immediate survival chances were boosted by senior figures including Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Priti Patel, Ben Wallace and Therese Coffey declaring they will not be resigning. 

Notably Michael Gove, who notoriously stabbed Mr Johnson in the back to end his leadership hopes in 2016, does not appear to be jumping ship.

However, the losses in the middle ranks are starting to rack up significantly.

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk quit as Solicitor General saying he could not ‘defend the indefensible’.

Tory vice-chair Bim Afolami announced his exit live on TV last night, while former loyalist Jonathan Gullis, Saqib Bhatti, Nicola Richards and Virginia Crosbie stepped down from PPS roles.

Theo Clarke and Andrew Murrison also left as trade envoys to Kenya and Morocco respectively. 

Lord Frost, previously Mr Johnson’s key Brexit minister, said Mr Sunak and Mr Javid had done the ‘right thing’ and the premier could not change. 

Even Cabinet ministers staying in place sounded a gloomy tone privately, with one telling MailOnline yesterday that some of their closest colleagues had ‘run out of sympathy with the PM’. 

The Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning was a glum harbinger of the chaos which unfolded yesterday afternoon

Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said that there was no ‘constitutional’ reason for Boris to resign

After Sunak and Javid quit – Boris moved quickly to replace them with Nadhim Zahawi and Steve Barclay

Seven in ten Brits believe Boris Johnson should resign his post, according to a new YouGov poll of thousands of UK adults, while a majority of people who voted Conservative in 2019 also want him gone.

The Prime Minister’s tenure has been called into question after two members of his Cabinet – Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – handed in their resignations yesterday in a scathing indictment of Johnson’s leadership.

YouGov’s poll found 69 per cent of people believe the PM should step down – up 11 per cent from June 9 – a sentiment shared by more than half (54 per cent) of respondents who voted Conservative in 2019’s general election.

Just 34 per cent of Conservative voters wanted Johnson out on June 9 just days after he narrowly survived a no-confidence vote, suggesting that yesterday’s Cabinet resignations represent the final straw for many Tory supporters.

Only 18 per cent of Brits overall believe Johnson should remain in charge, but despite the widespread calls for his resignation, just one in five YouGov poll respondents actually believe the Prime Minister will heed them. 

The Prime Minister was already fighting an uphill struggle to remain in No 10 as his handling of the row over scandal-hit former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher became the latest issue to raise questions over his judgment.

YouGov’s Associate Director of Political and Social Research Patrick English said of the poll results: ‘Tonight’s figures make for dire reading for Boris Johnson. 

‘With over half of the very people who put him into office in 2019 now wanting him out, he is losing the battle for support not just with the general public, but his own party’s voters.’ 

Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg was sent out to bat in broadcast studios last night, insisting there is no ‘constitutional’ reason for the PM to go. 

Asked whether he would really survive a fresh Tory confidence vote, Mr Rees-Mogg told Sky News: ‘He might very well win another.’ 

But in his resignation letter Mr Javid told the PM: ‘It is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this Government.

‘I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government.’

It was the second time Mr Javid has resigned from a Johnson government, having quit as Chancellor on principle in 2020 when he was told he could not choose his own special advisers.

Mr Johnson responded that he was ‘sorry’ to receive Mr Javid’s resignation letter, but suggested his Government would ‘continue to deliver’ plans for the NHS.

In a brief letter, the Prime Minister wrote: ‘Dear Saj, Thank you for your letter tendering your resignation. I was very sorry to receive it.

‘You have served this Government, and the people of the United Kingdom, with distinction.’

Mr Johnson praised Mr Sunak’s ‘outstanding service’. ‘I was sorry to receive your letter resigning from the Government,’ he said.

‘You have provided outstanding service to the country through the most challenging period for our economy in peacetime history’.

He noted the furlough scheme, Mr Sunak’s work on post-pandemic economic recovery and to repair public finances, as well as tax cuts.

‘It is for this reason I can no longer to serve as part of your government.’

Who’s staying and who’s gone from the Government?

Conservative MP Nicola Richards quit her role as PPS to the Department for Transport, stating she cannot serve ‘under the current circumstances’.

The West Bromwich East MP tweeted : ‘At a time where my constituents are worried about the cost of living and I am doing my best to support them, I cannot bring myself to serve as a PPS under the current circumstances, where the focus is skewed by poor judgement that I don’t wish to be associated with.

‘I am loyal to my constituents and will always put them first.

‘I am also loyal to the Conservative Party, of which is currently unrecognisable to me. I believe something must change.’

Just moments before the drama unfolded last night, the PM acknowledged he should have sacked Mr Pincher when he was told about the claims against him when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019, but instead Mr Johnson went on to appoint him to other government roles.

Asked if that was an error, the PM said: ‘I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.

‘I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this Government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.’

 Mr Rees-Mogg said that ‘losing chancellors is something that happens’.

He told Sky News that to suggest such actions should lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister was an ’18th-century’ view of Cabinet Government.

He said that it is the Prime Minister who appoints Cabinet ministers and is ‘not someone who is brought down by Cabinet ministers’.

Mr Johnson took a conciliatory tone in his letter responding to Mr Sunak yesterday.

‘I was sorry to receive your letter resigning from the Government,’ he wrote.

‘You have provided outstanding service to the country through the most challenging period for our economy in peacetime history’.

He noted the furlough scheme, Mr Sunak’s work on post-pandemic economic recovery and to repair public finances, as well as tax cuts.

‘I have enormously valued your advice and deep commitment to public service and will miss working with you in government,’ he concluded.

Theo Clarke (left) and Andrew Murrison also stepped down as the trade envoys to Kenya and Morocco respectively

Can Boris the ‘greased piglet’ wriggle free AGAIN? The PM’s options after Sunak and Javid quit – from daring MPs to oust him to calling a snap general election 

Boris Johnson was dealt a huge double blow following the resignations of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday.

But does this mean Mr Johnson’s time as Prime Minister is coming to a close? Might he quit himself? Or can he ride through another storm and remain in Number 10?

Here, MailOnline looks at what the consequences could be:

What’s happened?

Mr Sunak and Mr Javid both resigned as Cabinet ministers within minutes of each other yesterday.

The outgoing Chancellor told the PM that ‘we cannot continue like this’, adding: ‘The public rightly expect Government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.’

Meanwhile, Mr Javid publicly questioned Mr Johnson’s integrity, competence and ability to act in the national interest.

Why did they quit?

The duo left Government amid a fresh Tory sleaze scandal battering Mr Johnson’s administration.

Chris Pincher resigned as Tory deputy chief whip last week amid claims he drunkenly groped two men.

And – just hours before Mr Sunak and Mr Javid’s departure – Number 10 admitted the PM had been informed of a past complaint about the ‘inappropriate’ behaviour of Mr Pincher before he appointed him to the whips’ office in February.

The admission was the latest in a series of changing positions from Downing Street over what Mr Johnson had known of Mr Pincher’s past conduct.

In his resignation letter, Mr Sunak also spoke of ‘fundamental’ differences between himself and the PM on economic policy.

Boris Johnson’s chances of staying in Number 10 have been dealt a huge blow – but is it fatal?

Will the PM now also have to quit?

Not necessarily.

In fact, the PM’s chances of avoiding his own resignation were boosted by the fact that no other Cabinet ministers immediately followed Mr Sunak and Mr Javid out the door.

Many declared their support for Mr Johnson although some – such as Environment Secretary George Eustice have been noticeably quiet.

With the PM having already seen off huge pressure to quit over the Partygate scandal, it seems unlikely that he will fall on his sword at this moment.

He has even shrugged off the resignation of a Chancellor before when Mr Javid quit the top Treasury role in February 2020.

Ex-PM David Cameron famously referred to Mr Johnson as a ‘greased piglet’ due to his ability to survive various scrapes.

So many would back him to escape once again. 

Could the PM call a general election?

Another possibility, albeit slim, could be Mr Johnson calling a snap general election in a bid to seek a fresh mandate from the country.

If that were to happen, the calculation in No10 would be that – although increasing numbers of Tory MPs want him gone – voters themselves might still back him to remain in office.

It would be a huge gamble, with Labour maintaining a significant poll lead for the last months. 

How else will Tory rebels try to force the PM out?

There is already a plot among Tory rebel MPs to change the rules of the Conservative Party in order to force a new vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

This is despite the PM having won a contest on his leadership last month that granted him 12 months’ immunity from another challenge under current rules.

Mr Johnson chairing Cabinet yesterday morning, before the resignations were announced

The rebel plot will see them try to secure key posts on the 1922 Committee, the powerful Tory body in charge of leadership contests, in a battle with PM loyalists.

If they win a majority on the Committee’s 18-strong executive, they will be able to force through the rule change they want.

But, with elections to the 1922 executive not due to be held until next week and MPs going their summer break later this month, Mr Johnson could yet be safe from another contest until September.

What about Labour?

Sir Keir Starmer could attempt to force the PM out of Downing Street by tabling a no confidence motion over Mr Johnson’s Government in the House of Commons.

If he were to do so, the Labour leader would be calculating that Tory MPs are so fed up with Mr Johnson that they would side with the Opposition and vote to bring down their own Government.

There is a recent precedent for Sir Keir to follow, although Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, survived a confidence vote in January 2019 after it had been called for by then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ben Wallace, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak tipped to join former high-fliers Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt in any battle to succeed PM  

Boris Johnson insists the idea of him resigning is ‘crazy’ – but the possibility must look fairly realistic to potential successors.

Future candidates come from all wings of the party, from the libertarian right to the One Nation Tory centre.

Among the front-runners are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and one of her predecessors in the post, Jeremy Hunt, both of whom have made little secret of their desire to take the top job.

Other candidates expected to join a leadership race include Defence Secretary Ben Wallace – who like Truss is very popular with grassroots Tories due to his tough position over the Ukraine war.

And outsiders could include people like Tom Tugendhat, the former British Army officer and chairman of the foreign affairs committee, and Mark Harper, the former chief whip turned critic of the PM’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

Here are some of the potential runners and riders: 

Liz Truss 

  • 46-year-old Foreign Secretary and South West Suffolk MP
  • Has persistently been linked with a leadership challenge
  • Has used role to recreate some classic images of ex-PM Margaret Thatcher
  • Has faced a tough time with comments on the Ukraine conflict 

The 46-year-old  Foreign Secretary has been regularly linked with a tilt at No10. The former international trade secretary was promoted last year to succeed Dominic Raab.

The South West Norfolk MP has held a string of Cabinet posts under successive party leaders and is popular with the party grassroots.

But while she has been hawkish over the war in Ukraine, the conflict has hit her prospects after several stumbles. 

Prior to the February 24 invasion she visited Russia for talks with her Kremlin counterpart Sergei Lavrov, in which she overtly channeled the style of Margaret Thatcher on a similar trip 35 years previously.

Her use of Instagram to share images of her looking tough and commanding has also drawn comment. 

The Foreign Secretary posed for pictures in Red Square in a fur coat and hat, 35 years after the former Tory premier did the same on a visit to the then Soviet Union.

But she received a bit of a mauling from Putin’s attack dog, who said their talks had been like ‘the deaf talking to the blind’.

She was also criticised early in the conflict for urging Britons to go to fight for Russia even if they have no military experience, advice later contradicted by senior military figures.

But the Remain voter from 2016 has become a born-again Brexiteer in the years since, something that will aid her in any vote. 

As Foreign Secretary she has taken on responsibility for negotiating changes to the Brexit agreement with the EU to sort out the political impasse in Northern Ireland. A deadlock-breaking agreement is unlikely but unilateral action by the UK is being mooted, which could help boost her credentials.  

Jeremy Hunt

  • 46-year-old Foreign Secretary and South West Suffolk MP
  • Has persistently been linked with a leadership challenge
  • Has used role to recreate some classic images of ex-PM Margaret Thatcher
  • Has faced a tough time with comments on the Ukraine conflict 

Jeremy Hunt lost heavily to Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership election that followed the resignation of Theresa May. 

But he is showing no signs of letting the mauling at the hands of Tory members dissuade him three years later.

The former minister turned Health Committee chairman has made a series of increasingly high profile public interventions on health policy in recent weeks. 

And he has consistently refused to rule out running to replace Boris Johnson if he quits. 

The former minister turned Health Committee chairman has made a series of increasingly high profile public interventions on health policy in recent weeks.

Last month he refused to say whether Boris Johnson was ‘honest’ as he warned the Prime Minister has a ‘big mountain to climb’ in winning back Tory voters.

The South West Surrey MP cast doubt on the PM’s ability to once again prove a Tory vote winner as he insisted it would be a ‘mistake’ to dismiss the party’s local election losses as ‘mid-term blues’. 

But the former Cabinet minister insisted now was not the time for renewed efforts to topple Mr Johnson and said he ‘hoped’ the PM would lead the Tories into the next general election.

The comments were seen as a warning shot to the PM – and a clear message to Tory MPs – that he is waiting in the wings should Mr Johnson continue to stumble. 

Like Truss he is a former Remain voter who has become a convert to the Brexit cause. He also has his own fair share of gaffs in his locker, including describing his Chinese wife Lucia – with whom he has two children – as ‘Japanese’ in an interview.   

Ben Wallace 

  • 52-year-old former British Army officer is Defence Secretary
  • He is currently the most popular minister with the Tory grassroots 
  • Sandhurst-educated father of three has led efforts to arm Ukraine to fight off the Russian invasion
  • Was targeted by Russian pranksters who managed to speak to him on a video call in March

Currently the most popular minister with Tory grassroots, according to the Conservative Home website. 

The Defence Secretary’s low profile has risen into full view as he emerged as one of the foremost Cabinet hawks on the Ukraine War. 

The 52-year-old former Scots Guards officer has been at the forefront of efforts to supply Kyiv with weapons and expertise to fight off the Russian invasion, which has boosted his support base and name recognition.

The Sandhurst-educated father of three has overcome a Russian attempt to humiliate him after a Kremlin-backed prankster managed to get through to him on a video call, parts of which were later broadcast on YouTube.

He was asked if he supported Ukraine’s ‘nuclear aims’ by a man claiming to be the PM of Ukraine.

He has also avoided being implicated in the worst failures of the UK’s retreat from Afghanistan last summer, with blame being generally laid at the door of the Foreign Office.

The Defence Secretary’s low profile has risen into full view as he emerged as one of the foremost Cabinet hawks on the Ukraine War.

Last week he confirmed Britain is to arm Ukraine with precision-guided M270 rockets that have a range of up to 50 miles to help match Russia’s artillery arsenal.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has demanded heavier weapons to counter Russia’s artillery. Germany and the US have also pledged long-range weapon systems.

He tweeted yesterday: ‘In 2019 Boris won with a majority of 80. He has delivered victories in seats we have never held before. 

‘On Covid, on Ukraine he has helped deliver a world leading response. He has my full confidence.’

Rishi Sunak 

  • Former Chancellor was top-rated minister at the end of 2021 after Covid largesse
  • But profile has gone into freefall after a series of controversies in 2022
  • Wife revealed to be a non-dom taxpayer living in Downing Street
  • Sunak himself also faced questions over US Green Card possession 

Mr Sunak might have burnished his credentials with Tory rebels by finally walking out of the Cabinet.  

But it is unlikely he will ever regain the heady highs of the end of 2021, when he was the undisputed candidate to succeed Mr 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’ took a tumble in 2022 amid a series of controversies and rows with No10.

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.

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

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.  

Penny Mordaunt

  • Trade minister and Royal Navy reservist who backed Jeremy Hunt in 2019
  • Ignored other ministers tweeting support for PM to instead write about D-Day
  • She was the first woman to serve as defence secretary and was also international trade secretary
  • Appeared on reality TV show in 2014 wearing just a swimsuit 

Penny Mordaunt has already emerged as possibly one of the least subtle potential candidates to run.

While other ministers spend this morning tweeting their support of the Prime Minister, she pointedly tweeted … about attending a D-Day ceremony in Portsmouth, where she is an MP. 

‘Today I will be attending Portsmouth’s commemoration service to remember the efforts and sacrifice of #DDay,’ she wrote.

The Brexiteer, 49, a naval reservist who once appeared on reality TV in a swimsuit, is popular with party members.

She was the first woman to serve as defence secretary and was also international trade secretary and is currently a trade minister. 

Supporters have pushed her credentials as the potential unity candidate any leadership race appears to lack – she is a Brexit voter who backed Jeremy Hunt in 2019. 

She was the first woman to serve as defence secretary and was also international trade secretary and is currently a trade minister.

The Brexiteer, 49, a naval reservist who once appeared on reality TV in a swimsuit, is popular with party members.

Ms Mordaunt hs already been on resignation watch once this year. In January she spoke out against a proposed £1.2 billion underwater electricity cable project backed by a Russian oligarch and major Tory donor.

She opposed plans by Aquind, co-owned by Alexander Temerko, to construct the interconnector under the Channel between Normandy and Portsmouth.

Temerko, who previously ran a firm producing weapons for Russia’s military, and Aquind have given more than £1 million to the Tories and the oligarch has regularly featured in photos at fundraisers with Prime Ministers and their Cabinets.

Government sources said Mordaunt was ready to quit if the cable was approved. The project was later rejected.

Tom Tugendhat: Iraq and Afghanistan veteran turned China and foreign affairs hawk

  • An Army reservist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • The son of a high court judge and the nephew of a Tory peer.
  • Father of two said in 2017 that it would be ‘great to be PM’. 

Another Tory MP with military experience. Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is a confirmed Boris critic who has taken aim at the government over its attitude to China and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Some MPs believe the 48-year-old, an Army reservist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be well-suited to the role and represents the ‘best chance for a fresh start’.

However, some are concerned about his lack of political experience and voting for a second posh PM in a row. He is the son of a high court judge and the nephew of a Tory peer.

Mr Tugendhat, who is married with two children, has previously made clear that he would fancy a tilt at the top job, saying in 2017 that it would be ‘great to be PM’. 

Some MPs believe the 48-year-old, an Army reservist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be well-suited to the role and represents the ‘best chance for a fresh start’.

He was a member of the Territorial Army when the Iraq War broke out in 2003 and he was mobilised as an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer to serve with the Royal Marines. He went into Iraq as part of Operation TELIC – the initial invasion.

After the war he returned to a job in the City of London but then went back to Iraq to help with the economic reconstruction of the country.

In 2006 the Foreign Office then asked Mr Tugendhat to go to Afghanistan to help grow its national security council. The Tory MP can speak Arabic, Dari and French.

The Tory MP was applauded in the House of Commons during a debate on the UK’s exit from Afghanistan in August 2021 as he detailed his experience in the country.

He told a silent chamber: ‘Like many veterans, this last week has seen me struggle through anger, grief and rage—through the feeling of abandonment of not just a country, but the sacrifice that my friends made.

‘I have been to funerals from Poole to Dunblane. I have watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me and a part of all of us. This week has torn open some of those wounds, has left them raw and left us all hurting.’

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