Barely two hours after UK Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation – just 44 days in office – her predecessor, scandal-plagued Boris Johnson is reportedly being backed to recapture the seat he was forced out of two months ago.
According to the Telegraph, Boris Johnson is expected to stand in the Tory leadership contest to replace his successor Liz Truss. The paper reports further that Johnson is “now be taking soundings about trying to get his old job back.”
“The battle to replace Ms Truss is now getting underway after she announced at lunchtime that she is resigning after concluding that she ‘cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.’”
In the meantime, support is also building for Rishi Sunak as the next Tory party leader. This became evident after Tory MP Angela Richardson publicly declared her support for Sunak, as was MP for Guildford, who supported Mr Sunak this summer. Sunak was among the first Tory leaders to call for Liz Truss resignation.
Ms Richardson said in a statement to her local paper, “Having spent the summer supporting Rishi Sunak’s leadership bid, my views on his suitability have not changed. If anything, the past six weeks have brought them even more sharply into focus.”
Also being touted to replace Truss are Penny Mordaunt and Ben Wallace, who a report in the Independent say are “the top frontrunners to be the next PM after Liz Truss resigned, according to the bookies.”
The Daily Mail reports that there were extraordinary scenes within Westminster as Tory MPs were left in chaos after the apparent U-turn on the “confidence” vote, leaving them unsure whether they could now abstain or vote against without losing the whip.
Multiple MPs claim they witnessed shouting and screaming amongst Conservative MPs and senior ministers, while the senior members of the whip’s office were nowhere to be seen. The barely believable scenes in the division lobbies – captured on camera by Labour MP Chris Bryant in defiance of Commons rules – were the latest evidence of the wheels falling off Ms Truss’s administration.
Labour had tabled a motion trying to ban fresh drilling and Tory whips told backbenchers it was a “confidence motion” that could in theory bring down Ms Truss. They threatened to kick rebels out the party if they did not vote with the Government.
No Tories voted against the government but 40 abstained – including Kwasi Kwarteng, who was chancellor until last week. Commons records show Ms Truss abstained, although there are now claims that is a mistake and she did vote with the government.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said, “’Late in the day, a junior official at 10 Downing Street sent a message through to the front bench that it was not a vote of confidence and nobody else was aware of that. The whips were not aware of that, I was not aware of that and most members thought that it was a vote of confidence. It was simply one of those unfortunate miscommunications that occasionally happens.”
Labour MPs reported screaming and shouting and Tory MPs being dragged in to vote with the government. Speaking in the chamber afterwards, former minister Chris Bryant said:
“I would urge you to launch an investigation into the scenes outside the entrance to the no lobby earlier. ‘As you know, members are expected to be able to vote without fear or favour and the behaviour code which is agreed by the whole of the House says there shall never be bullying or harassment. I saw members being physically manhandled into another lobby and being bullied. If we want to stand up against bullying in this House of our staff, we have to stop bullying in this chamber as well.”
Later on, Sky, he directly accused Deputy PM Therese Coffey and Mr Rees-Mogg of manhandling MP Alex Stafford into the voting lobby, though he described it as a “heated exchange.’” But Mr Stafford later commented on Twitter that ‘no-one pushes me around’ in a denial of Labour’s version of events.
Nevertheless, dozens of opposition MPs shared their own eyewitness accounts on social media during and shortly after the voting period which appeared to back up the allegations, including government whips ‘screaming’, Therese Coffey ‘practically picking up’ another MP to walk them through the ‘No’ lobby, and multiple MPs in tears.
A Tory MP who witnessed the height of the chaos said, “I was waiting for the votes and then Craig Whittaker came out crying and saying he’s sick of everything. Then Wendy came out stony faced. The other whips say they have quit. It was absolute carnage.”
Ms Truss eventually won the vote by 326 to 230 but among the chaos Chief Whip Wendy Morton also abstained.
Hours earlier Home Secretary Suella Braverman was forced to resign yesterday, ostensibly for breaching protocol by sending an email from her personal account to a contact revealing details of an announcement on immigration policy.
Downing Street said Mrs Braverman, the shortest serving Home Secretary of modern times, had resigned after sending a confidential document to a Tory MP in breach of the ministerial code.
But multiple sources said her departure followed a “fiery” 90-minute meeting between her and Ms Truss in No 10 the previous night at which the Home Secretary warned the PM it would be “insane” to relax immigration rules in order to boost economic growth.
In an explosive resignation letter last night Mrs Braverman suggested that the PM should quit and savaged her record.
“It is obvious to everyone that we are going through a tumultuous time,” she wrote. “I have concerns about the direction of this Government. Not only have we broken key pledges that were promised to our voters, but I have had serious concerns about this Government’s commitment to honouring manifesto commitments, such as reducing overall migration numbers.”
She swiped that when people made “mistakes” – something Ms Truss has admitted – the right thing to do was quit.
Ms Truss responded with a much briefer letter saying it is “important the Ministerial Code is upheld” and quickly installed Grant Shapps – previously a strident critic and Rishi Sunak supporter – as a replacement.
- The Tell report, additional reporting by The Sun, Daily Mail and The Independent