John Major urges 1922 Committee to remove Boris Johnson quickly

Former PM says it is ‘unwise, and may be unsustainable’ for Johnson to stay in office for up to three months

John Major has urged the Conservative party’s 1922 committee to remove Boris Johnson from office immediately without allowing him to serve temporarily after his resignation, amid growing calls for the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, to be interim PM.

That call was echoed by a slew of ex-ministers as well as senior Tories, who said Johnson’s behaviour over the past 24 hours had made it impossible for him to stay.

Major, the former Conservative prime minister, released a letter saying it was “unwise, and may be unsustainable” for Johnson to stay in office for up to three months.

He said Raab could become acting prime minister if Johnson stepped aside – a move which would have no constitutional precedent. But he said the other option to speed Johnson’s departure would be to eliminate a vote of party members and let only MPs decide who should become the next prime minister.

“In such a circumstance, the prime minister maintains the power of patronage and, of even greater concern, the power to make decisions which will affect the lives of those within all four nations of the United Kingdom and further afield,” he wrote to the committee chair, Sir Graham Brady.

“Some will argue that his new cabinet will restrain him. I merely note that his previous cabinet did not – or could not – do so.”

Major said neither of the options was “ideal” but they were necessary. “The interests of the country must be given priority over all else and, with so many long-term and critical issues before us, an imaginative response – even at the risk of some bruised feelings within the party – is most definitely in the national interest.”

Nick Gibb, a former minister, said the prime minister must resign his office. “After losing so many ministers, he has lost the trust and authority required to continue,” he said.

George Freeman, who resigned as science minister on Thursday morning, agreed, saying: “We need ministers back at their desks. Now PM has finally done the decent thing he needs to hand in the seals of office, apologise to Her Majesty, allow her to appoint a caretaker under whom ministers can serve, so the Conservative party can choose a new leader properly.”

Another ex-minister said: “He needs to be gone by tonight. Raab should take over.”

Simon Hoare, a backbench MP, wrote on Twitter: “Ministers resigned *because* of the PM. The party lost confidence *because* of the PM. It is beyond credulity that Mr Johnson can stay in office … New constitutional territory but he has to go and go means go.”

Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

One highly senior Tory source who has been with Johnson in recent days said his “reckless and erratic” behaviour meant it was dangerous for the country for him to stay. “He cannot be trusted to lead the country until the autumn. God knows what he will do.”

One former government adviser said it was “dangerous” for Johnson to stay in post. Another ex-minister called him “a disgrace”.


Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
What could 1922 Committee elections mean for Boris Johnson?
Elections next week could mark the beginning of the end for Johnson’s premiership

Aubrey Allegretti Political correspondent

06, Jul, 2022 @10:36 AM

Article image
‘Ruthlessly organised’ Tory rebels plot 1922 takeover to oust Boris Johnson
Some who backed PM only last week now set sights on ‘clean sweep’ of backbench committee that could allow leadership vote

Aubrey Allegretti

29, Jun, 2022 @6:16 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson wins no-confidence vote despite unexpectedly large rebellion
PM retains support of most colleagues but badly weakened after result in which 148 MPs voted against him

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

06, Jun, 2022 @8:03 PM

Article image
Sack Boris Johnson and reshuffle cabinet, senior Tories to tell May
Conservative MPs want prime minister to show she can exert discipline after Grant Shapps’s bid to trigger leadership contest

Heather Stewart, Peter Walker and Daniel Boffey

07, Oct, 2017 @8:11 AM

Article image
Boris Johnson had enough backers to challenge Rishi Sunak, says 1922 chair
Sir Graham Brady says ex-PM hit threshold of nominations to secure place on final ballot in Tory leadership race

Jamie Grierson

04, Nov, 2022 @9:04 AM

Article image
Gove reboots Tory leadership bid with attack on Johnson
Environment secretary insists he is ‘in it to win it’ and vows to focus on overlooked families

Heather Stewart Political editor

10, Jun, 2019 @5:06 PM

Article image
Telegraph quickly deletes pro-Boris Johnson article after he quits Tory race
Paper published Nadhim Zahawi article online just as news came through of Johnson’s withdrawal

Jim Waterson Media editor

24, Oct, 2022 @11:48 AM

Article image
Boris Johnson could face new confidence vote within days
Members of 1922 Committee to consider changing rules as soon as Wednesday night, it is understood

Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent

06, Jul, 2022 @11:43 AM

Article image
John Major says Boris Johnson broke lockdown laws and is creating mistrust
Former Tory PM says disregard for honesty and standards puts UK’s democratic future at risk

Peter Walker Political correspondent

10, Feb, 2022 @8:37 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson faces growing Tory calls for confidence vote
Andrea Leadsom criticises PM’s ‘failure of leadership’ as another MP submits letter to 1922 Committee

Jessica Elgot Chief political correspondent

31, May, 2022 @1:26 PM