Johnson calls govt change ‘eccentric’ as he appoints new cabinet

Johnson calls govt change ‘eccentric’ as he appoints new cabinet
[JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images] Boris Johnson giving his resignation speech outside parliament today (July 7)

Boris Johnson has stood before Number 10 Downing Street, confirming he will resign as the UK’s prime minister and the process to find a new leader is now in motion.

He said a timetable for the search for a new prime minister will be announced next week, following reports he will stay on in the role until the autumn.

In his speech today (July 7), Johnson addressed the reason why he had held onto his office for the past few days, despite repeated calls for him to step down from his own party.

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“I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019 [when he was voted in],” said Johnson.

“In the last few days, I've tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we are delivering so much, when we have such a vast mandate [80 seat majority], and when we're actually only a handful of points behind in the polls. 

“I regret not having been successful in those arguments. It's painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself. 

“But as we have seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful when the herd moves, it moves.”

Former vice chair of the 1922 committee, Charles Walker, told ITV News today it is up to the 1922 - a committee of all backbench Conservative MPs - to set the leadership timetable and not the PM.

Former UK prime minister John Major has since written to Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, urging him not to let Johnson stay as caretaker prime minister.

Major said either Dominic Raab, deputy prime minister, should step in during the interim period, or the 1922 committee should arrange for a new leader of the Tory party to be elected solely by MPs.

So far, two Tory MPs have already thrown their hats into the ring in a bid to become the new PM - Steve Baker and Suella Braverman.

Baker, who is MP for Wycombe, held one government post for just over a year as parliamentary under-secretary for the department for exiting the European Union. Braverman, who is MP for Fareham, has been Attorney General for England and Wales since 2020, 

Liz Truss is tipped to launch a leadership bid though no formal announcement has been made yet.

A new cabinet

Johnson has appointed a number of new MPs to government roles today following a dramatic influx of MPs resigning from government roles which surpassed 50 this morning.

The prime minister appointed a new health secretary and chancellor yesterday in Steve Barclay and Nadhim Zahawi, respectively. This followed the resignations of former chancellor Rishi Sunak and former health secretary Sajid Javid within minutes of one another on Tuesday (July 5). 

Michelle Donelan, who was appointed education secretary two days ago by Johnson, resigned this morning. James Cleverly, formerly minister of state for Europe, has now filled the role.