A summary of today's developments
- Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, has launched his campaign for the Tory leadership. In a video for his website called Ready4Rishi, he stresses his immigrant heritage, declares that “family is everything to me” and insists he will not be a candidate offering “comforting fairy tales”.
- Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who resigned from government two days ago, has announced she will be joining the running to be Boris Johnson’s successor. She told the Times she would radically cut the size of the state and provide a “limited government focused on essentials”.
- Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has decided not to run as a Conservative leadership candidate and has instead backed Suella Braverman. Braverman told the Telegraph: “There’s no better organiser in Westminster, and I’m so glad it’s my campaign that has got him. He’ll make a vital contribution.”
- Peter Bone MP is to be Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. Stuart Andrew, who resigned on Wednesday as housing minister in protest against Boris Johnson staying on as PM, is back in the government as a justice minister.
- The government announced its junior ministerial appointments. Damian Collins to be parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Michael Tomlinson to be vice chamberlain of HM Household (government whip), Craig Whittaker to be a government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury), James Duddridge to be a government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury).
- Durham police announced they are not fining anyone over “Beergate”. Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are cleared of breaking any lockdown rules.
- James Cleverly, newly appointed as education secretary, has ruled out running for Conservative leader. He told Sky News: “As you know, my wife has been going through cancer treatment. While that is going well it hasn’t concluded. “It’s not the right time for me and I feel comfortable that we have a range of candidates within the party that would make excellent prime ministers.”
Tory MPs Chloe Smith and Julian Knight have both expressed their support for foreign secretary Liz Truss, although she is yet to launch a bid.
Smith said Truss is “the right person to take our country forward”, while Knight said she would “deliver on the promise we made to our voters”.
The front page of Saturday’s Guardian.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said he will not be voting for Rishi Sunak in the upcoming leadership election.
He told the BBC: “I will not be endorsing Mr Sunak for prime minister.
“I belong to a party that believes in low taxation and the former chancellor has talked about low taxation and delivered higher taxation.
“We have had a high tax chancellor and I belong to a low tax party and I want to see us getting back to being a low tax party.
“I will support a leader who believes in keeping public expenditure under control to deal with inflation.”
Kemi Badenoch joins Conservative leadership race
Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who resigned from government two days ago, has announced she will be joining the running to be Boris Johnson’s successor.
She told the Times she would radically cut the size of the state and provide a “limited government focused on essentials”.
Baker pulls out of leadership race and backs Braverman
Steve Baker has decided not to run as a Conservative leadership candidate and has instead backed Suella Braverman.
The attorney general now has five declared supporters: former Brexit minister Baker, Sir Desmond Swayne, Jason McCartney, Robin Millar and Henry Smith.
Braverman told the Telegraph: “There’s no better organiser in Westminster, and I’m so glad it’s my campaign that has got him. He’ll make a vital contribution.”
She added: “I’m delighted to receive the backing of Steve Baker. We need clarity of purpose and a clear vision to steer our country through the choppy waters ahead.”
A new education minister has been criticised after appearing to make a rude gesture while entering Downing Street.
Andrea Jenkyns was filmed making the gesture with her hand as she walked through the black gates.
Jenkyns was appointed to the role of parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Education on Friday in a reshuffle by the prime minister, Boris Johnson.
The footage, shared on social media on Thursday evening, appears to have been taken shortly before Johnson announced he was stepping down as leader of the Conservative Party, prior to her appointment as a minister.
It is unclear who the gesture was aimed at.
In response to the video, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson tweeted: “Ministers aren’t expected to be perfect. But is it really too much to ask that they don’t treat the public like this?”
Stuart Anderson, Joy Morrissey, Sir David Evennett, Adam Holloway, Suzanne Webb and David Morris have been appointed assistant government whips.
Junior ministerial appointments
- Damian Collins to be parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- Michael Tomlinson to be vice chamberlain of HM Household (government whip)
- Craig Whittaker to be a government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury)
- James Duddridge to be a government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury)
ITV’s Robert Peston on Rishi Sunak’s plan to prepare a leadership bid.
Labour MP Jess Phillips’ view on Rishi Sunak putting his hat in the ring to become Conservative leader.
Steve Reed MP, the shadow justice secretary, responded to the Conservative MP Sarah Dines – who reportedly asked an alleged victim of Chris Pincher if he was gay – being appointed as a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice by saying: “The Conservatives just don’t get it.
“They said the Pincher affair was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the reason why Boris Johnson had to go. One day later and they promote an MP who gaslighted one of Pincher’s abuse victims.
“It shows yet again that changing the man at the top isn’t the problem, the problem is the entire Conservative party. That’s why Britain needs a fresh start with a Labour government.”
The former Tory party co-chair Oliver Dowden has thrown his support behind Rishi Sunak’s leadership bid.
In a statement shared on social media, he said: “Rishi is the best person to lead our country and unquestionably the best person to beat Labour.
“That’s why I’m backing him to be our next prime minister.”
In an interview recorded last week and broadcast today on Times Radio, Nadine Dorries ruled out a leadership bid, contrary to reports.
When asked “Nadine Dorries as prime minister”, she replied: “You know what, I will absolutely no, that’s absolutely no. Amazed you’d ask me that.”
Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader, Michelle O’Neill, has asked the newly appointed secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Shailesh Vara, to “act in good faith” in relation to Northern Ireland and attempts to restore the power-sharing executive.
“Shailesh Vara is the seventh secretary of state that we’ve had in the last decade,” she told RTÉ Radio.
“I think that in itself shows the consistency and the commitment that the British government have towards Ireland, towards our peace process, and towards political relations in the North.
“My efforts and attention was that any new secretary of state – however short-lived his tenure may be – will be to make that deliberate, clear message to them that they needed to act in good faith, which has not been a characteristic of previous secretaries of state, or indeed Boris Johnson or his team.
“So I’m actually less concerned about people’s personalities and more concerned about actually what they do in their day job.”
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland would remain in the British-Irish Council if the country voted for independence.
The first minister was speaking after the 37th summit held in Guernsey when she claimed a vote for independence would not come at the sacrifice of good relations with other nations in the British Isles.
“An independent Scotland would still be part of the British Isles and therefore, very much a part of the British-Irish Council,” she told journalists.
“I want to use this forum as a way to illustrate the continuing relationships that will be strong and valued and valuable when Scotland becomes an independent country.
“The only thing that will change is Scotland will no longer be a devolved government around the table, we will be an independent government.”
Labour MP Chris Bryant on the appointment of Peter Bone:
No 10 has announced further government appointments.
Heather Wheeler is now parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office.
Guy Opperman has been made parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Julie Marson has been appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions, and an assistant government whip.
An Opinium poll for Channel 4 News shows Rishi Sunak is the most popular choice to be the next leader among Conservative party members.
The poll puts Sunak on 25%, just ahead of the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, on 21%, with the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, at 12%.
Some reaction to Peter Bone being named deputy leader.
Peter Bone named as deputy leader of House of Commons
The Queen has been pleased to approve the following appointments:
- Andrew Griffith MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade;
- Jane Hunt MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy;
- Karl McCartney MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport;
- James Morris MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Health and Social Care;
- Andrea Jenkyns MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education;
- Simon Baynes MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State jointly at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office;
- Steve Double MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs;
- Amanda Solloway MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, and a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office;
- Peter Bone MP to be Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson entered Downing Street in July 2019 with a promise. The doubters, doomsters and gloomsters were going to get it wrong again: his leadership would make Brexit a success, reigniting an economy stalled by the divisions over Europe.
Three years later, almost to the day, he prepares to leave with the country reeling from a political implosion of his own making, and an economy teetering on the brink of recession.
The cost of living is accelerating at the fastest annual rate in four decades, while families face the worst hit to real disposable income on record.
This wasn’t in the boosterish script. To be fair, neither was the biggest global health emergency in a century and war on European soil.
Rishi Sunak's launch video – snap verdict
Rishi Sunak’s launch video is slick and extremely professional. (It is also not the sort of thing that has been knocked together in a rush, since Sunak resigned on Tuesday night.) The former chancellor has spent a lot of time in the US, where the political consultancy industry is much more advanced than in the UK, and the video has all the hallmarks of a top-notch production based on the best advice money can by.
The technical quality is very good. It starts with Sunak telling a story, and it is a tale of his immigrant family background, and hard work, success and family. “Family is everying to me, and my family gave my opportunities they could only dream of,” he says, in a formula that frames his privileged upbringing (he went to Winchester, one of the most elite private schools in the country) in the context of upwards mobility. From there it is on to love of country and the values that Sunak says are “non-negotiable” for him – “patriotism, fairness and hard work”. It ends with Sunak saying “we’ve had enough of division”, and talking about how he wants to bring people together because “that’s the only way to succeed”. You could run an ad like this for almost any centrist candidate in a western democracy and it would probably work. These are messages with a wide appeal.
There is no policy in the video, and little that is specific. But, unsurprisingly, Sunak does focus on his record as chancellor, saying he “ran the toughest department in government during the toughest times when we faced the nightmare of Covid”. It is hard to dispute this, and this will be at the heart of the campaign.
More intriguingly, Sunak also hints at the approach he will take to spending arguments in the contest.
The decisions we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will also have the chance of a better future.
Do we confront this moment with honesty, seriousness and determination? Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairy tales that might make us feel better in the moment, but will leave our children worse off tomorrow? Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.
Although “comforting fairly tale” might be seen by some as a good description of Brexit (which Sunak supported), he is talking here about government debt, his belief that too much borrowing is irresponsible, that tax cuts have to be paid for, and that some of this Tory colleague are wrong to believe that tax cuts will pay for themselves (a point he made explicitly in his Mais lecture).
One curious feature of the video is that it is addressed to the public at large. But the public at large will not get a vote on who becomes the next Tory leader. It is a decision for Conservative MPs, and 100,000 or so party members.
That is all from me for today. My colleague Nadeem Badshah is taking over now.
Mark Spencer, the leader of the Commons, and another Tory former chief whip, is also backing Rishi Sunak.
Rishi Sunak has got some Tory MPs already declaring their support.
This is from Mark Harper, the former chief whip.
And this is from Jacob Young. He is MP for Redcar and Cleveland.
Lord Greenhalgh has resigned as building safety minister. In his resignation letter, he says he was saddened by the events that led to Boris Johnson deciding to quit, and that he has decided it is time to go too. Greenhalgh worked with Johnson at City Hall, when Johnson was mayor. He was deputy mayor for policing.
Rishi Sunak launches his campaign for Tory leadership
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, has launched his campaign for the Tory leadership with a slick video. In it he stresses his immigrant heritage, declares that “family is everything to me” and insists that he will not be a candidate offering “comforting fairy tales”.
It has not been a good week for the Daily Mail. First, Boris Johnson announced he was resigning, despite the paper aggressively denouncing those who were trying to force him out. And then at lunchtime today Durham police declared that Keir Starmer had “no case to answer”, despite the Mail running numerous stories earlier this year presenting this as a scandal to rival Partygate.
But they don’t give up easily at the Mail (unlike the PM). The Mail website is leading with a version of the story headed: ‘Another Establishment Stitch-up’: Tory fury as Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are CLEARED of breaking lockdown rules during ‘Beergate’ gathering.
The headline rests on this quote from Michael Fabricant, the Johnson loyalist Tory MP. He said:
I am surprised how Durham police decided not to fine Starmer and Rayner.
Many people will think that, as a QC and a lawyer, Starmer wormed his way out of a conviction while, in effect, blackmailing Durham police by saying: “You’ll be bringing down the leader of the opposition if you fine me.”
Many regular people will feel this is another establishment stitch-up.
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, is about to declare as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, the Times’ Steven Swinford reports. He says Sunak will stand as the serious candidate for serious times, with fiscal responsibility at the centre of his pitch (which makes him sound like a Tory version of Gordon Brown).
Seven new ministers appointed
Downing Street has announced seven more ministerial appointments.
One appointment involves a minister, Stuart Andrew, who resigned on Wednesday as housing minister in protest against Boris Johnson staying on as PM. After a day out of government, Andrew is back in the government as a justice minister.
Two government whips have been promoted to become ministers.
Alan Mak is now exchequer secretary to the Treasury. He was a whip.
And Sarah Dines is now a joint minister at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office.
And four backbenchers have been given jobs.
Richard Fuller is now economic secretary to the Treasury.
Rehman Chishti is a Foreign Office minister.
Lia Nici is now a levelling up minister.
And Brendan Clarke-Smith is now an education minister.
Starmer says Beergate resignation pledge shows how he can restore faith in politics
In his opening statement at the press conference Keir Starmer sought to link his pledge to resign if fined over Beergate to a wider argument about restoring faith in politics. Here is the key passage.
Our country is stuck in a dangerous rut.
Everywhere you look things are broken.
And nothing gets fixed.
People say to me when they look at those running the country, they see a group of people totally detached from reality, whose words mean nothing, and who put their own interest first.
Who could blame them for concluding that politics doesn’t matter and doesn’t work.
This is not just about Boris Johnson.
This feeling that politics has failed hasn’t emerged in the last few months.
It’s been bubbling away for years.
And people have completely lost faith that this can be changed.
That politics can be a force for good.
The reason I made the promise that I did was to change their mind.
Because when politics is done well, when people can have faith that politicians’ words mean something.
When the power of government sits in the hands of those determined to serve the country.
Like when Labour created the NHS.
When we introduced the Equal Pay Act.
And when we brought people together to deliver peace in Northern Ireland.
Politics can change lives.
And that is what I will do as prime minister.
As an exercise in logic, this did not quite work. Starmer’s promise to resign if fined certainly did show that he was serious about thinking politicians should not be above the law. But, ironically, he would only have been able to use the promise to show beyond doubt that he was a politician who kept his word if he had been fined and resigned (even though that is what people believe he would have done).
But that is not the same as showing that politics can be a force for good. There are politicians of impeccable integrity who have not been able to make policies that change lives for the better. And in the past some policies that have done just that have been implemented by scoundrels.
However, the Beergate affair has enhanced Starmer’s reputation for personal integrity, and he made this point in the final passage of his speech.
I won’t get everything right.
I’m certainly not perfect, and I will make mistakes along the way.
But what you will always get from me is someone who believes honesty and integrity matter.
Someone who will work every day for the good of the country.
And someone who will not betray the faith that you place in me.
Starmer rules out post-election coalition with SNP, but not with Lib Dems
Q: Will you rule out coalition with the SNP and the Lib Dems?
Yes, says Starmer.
He says he is ruling out an alliance with the SNP, before or after an election. That is an in principle decision. He says he cannot form an alliance with a party that wants to break up the UK.
As regards the Lib Dems, Starmer says he wants a Labour government.
But he does not rule out a post-election pact.
And that’s it. The press conference is finished.
UPDATE: Here is Starmer’s answer in full. He was asked to rule out a coalition with the SNP and the Lib Dems after the election. In response, he said:
I will absolutely rule it out.
Let me take the SNP first: There will be no deal going into a general election and no deal coming out of a general election ...
I want to be prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom, I want the Labour government for the whole of the United Kingdom.
There is no basis, no basis for an alliance with a party who wants to break up the United Kingdom.
I want to grow the economy. There’s no basis for an alliance with a party that thinks the answer to grow the economy is to put a border between England and Scotland.
So it’s not just a numbers game, it’s an in principle position. There is no basis for an alliance under a Keir Starmer government between Labour and the SNP. Full stop.
So far as the Lib Dems are concerned, we want a Labour majority. We want to deliver on our mission and that is what we are going to do. We are fighting for a majority Labour government to deliver our mission.
Q: Haven’t you left it late to set out what a Labour government would do?
Starmer says Labour has set out its approach to the economy, how it will handle its relationship with business, its skills agenda and its plans for a buy British approach. So the party has set out a lot, he says.
Q: Have any Tory MPs offered to support you in a no-confidence vote?
Starmer says it is the duty of Tory MPs to step up and force Johnson out. If they don’t, Labour will table a no-confidence motion.
Q: Do you want the government to supsend new policies for two months?
Starmer says his preferred option is for Boris Johnson to go. If he does not, Labour will propose a no-confidence vote.
Q: Aren’t you just playing politics with the no-confidence vote?
Starmer says Johnson was brought down on the issue of trust and integrity. He says it does not make sense for ministers to bring down a PM, saying he asks them to defend the indefensible, and then for them to serve him for another two months.
Starmer says voters are coming back to Labour. The party is ready for a general election.
Q: You are pressing for a no confidence vote. Won’t a general election add to the chaos?
Starmer says he does not agree. Britain needs fundamental change, he says.
Starmer dismisses Tory leadership candidates as 'wannabe leaders' who spent months defending unsuitable PM
Q: Has Boris Johnson’s resignation made your task harder?
“Not in the slightest,” says Starmer.
He says the Tory leadership contest shows “a cast list of wannabe leaders who propped up this prime minister for months and months and months”.
UPDATE: Starmer said:
The contrast between the Tory party, which is tearing itself apart with a cast list of wannabe leaders, they’ve all propped up this prime minister for months and months and months knowing he’s unfit for office.
Contrast that to the Labour party: We’re united, we want to press on with a plan for Britain, and the change we want is more fundamental than a change at the top of the Conservative party.
So this is a very good week for the Labour Party and my challenge to the Tories is not ‘who’s your next leader gonna be’, but ‘give us the change we really need, let’s have a general election, let’s have a change of government, a fresh start for our country’.
Starmer says voters will always get from him 'someone who believes honesty and integrity matter'
Keir Starmer says people told him he was taking a risk by saying he would resign if he were shown to have broken the law.
But for him it was a matter of principle, he says; if you make the law, you should not break the law.
He says the fact that this was remarkable shows how out of touch politicians have become.
People feel things are not working, and politics is not serving them.
He claims his stance has been about showing people that politics can work.
It is vital to give Britain the fresh start it needs.
In the coming days he will set out how Labour can do this.
He says he won’t get everything right.
I am certainly not perfect, and I will make mistakes along the way.
But what you will always get from me is someone who believes honesty and integrity matter.
Keir Starmer's press conference
Keir Starmer is about to hold a press conference. My colleague Peter Walker is there.
One of the leading supporters of Tom Tugendhat’s campaign for the Tory leadership is Damian Green, the former first secretary of state who chairs the One Nation Conservatives group of MPs. In an interview on the World at One he said the party would do best with a new leader who had not been part of Boris Johnson’s government. But he sounded less confident when asked where Tugendhat stood on controversial Johnson policies.
Asked if Tugendhat was in favour of the Northern Ireland protocol bill, which is widely seen as breaking international law, Green said he personally did not think the bill would necessarily break international law. “I support the idea of having this bill as a negotiating tactic,” Green said.
Asked about Tugendhat’s stance on the bill, Green said Tugendhat, like many MPs, wanted to see the bill improved.
And asked about Tugendhat’s stance on deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, Green replied:
We all want to stop the illegal traffic across the Channel, not least for the people involved. They are going through very dangerous journeys to get there. I think the Rwanda policy may work, and if it does, then well done for introducing it.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case has been 'bystander at car crash', says former permanent secretary
Senior civil servants, even when they retire, tend to be quite reticent in public, but on the Today programme this morning Sir David Normington, a former permanent secretary at the Home Office, was remarkably critical of Simon Case, the cabinet secretary.
Normington was asked what could be done to stop Boris Johnson making any rogue decisions in his final weeks in office, and he replied that it would be up to the cabinet and Case to constrain him.
Asked if he thought Case was strong enough to perform this role, Normington replied:
Well, I’m a little doubtful about it. He has presided over a decline in standards. He’s had a very difficult prime minister to deal with. But he’s sometimes seemed like a bystander at the car crash. This is the moment for him to step up. I think.
Maybe retired civil servants are becoming more assertive. Last night Simon McDonald posted this on Twitter, celebrating the downfall of the PM that he helped to precipitate.
McDonald’s letter on Tuesday morning saying No 10 was not telling the truth about Chris Pincher was the final straw for many MPs, prompting a further collapse in support for Johnson among the parliamentary party, and the resignation of two cabinet ministers that night.
The political turmoil in Britain has made headlines in China. Chinese audiences have been fascinated by the drama unfolding in Downing Street. On Friday the Chinese foreign ministry, when asked about Boris Johnson’s resignation, said it would not comment on British domestic politics, but it had a message to the incoming occupant of No 10.
“No matter how British politics changes, we hope that the UK side will take the long-term and overall situation into consideration, work with the Chinese side halfway, and promote the sustainable and stable development of bilateral relations,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
In Beijing there is no expectation of a potential return to “golden era” British-Chinese relations. Like the mainstream analysis in the UK, Chinese analysts also seem to have come to terms with a fundamentally contentious bilateral relationship in the foreseeable future.
“The world has changed substantially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and it’s unfathomable that the deterioration of bilateral ties between China and UK can be improved significantly or even turned around any time soon,” Prof Shi Yinhong, of Renmin University, told Chinese media on Friday.
Labour MP accuses Tories who called for Beergate investigation of wasting police time
The Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy was at the Beergate event, with Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner and party staff and activists, that was investigated by the police as a possible breach of lockdown rules. She has welcomed the news that police have decided that no rules were broken. (See 12.33pm.)
In a statement responding to the decision, she accused the Tory MPs who did call for an inquiry of wasting police time at a time when the force was already under “significant pressure”.
Foy did not name any of them in her statement, but the most prominent of them was Richard Holden, the MP for North West Durham. He has tweeted the Durham police statement, saying that after significant new information emerged, officers concluded the event was reasonably necessary for work.
Keir Starmer is going to hold a press conference later to respond to the Durham police announcement, Labour is saying.
Jeremy Hunt is highly likely to announce his bid to become the next Conservative leader in the coming days, PA Media reports. PA says:
A source close to the senior Tory MP, who ran for the leadership in 2019, said that he was “virtually certain” to enter the contest to replace Boris Johnson.
“For months he has been pressed by colleagues on all wings of the party,” the source said.
The source also claimed that Hunt was receiving “mounting support” from within the party.
Labour welcomes Durham police announcement saying Starmer and Rayner cleared of breaking lockdown rules
Responding to the announcement from Durham police (see 12.33pm), a Labour spokesperson said:
Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have always been clear that no rules were broken in Durham.
The police have completed their investigation and have agreed saying that there is no case to answer.
Durham police say 'no case to answer' for Starmer over alleged lockdown breach
Durham police are not fining anyone over Beergate, they have announced.
That means Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are not being fined – and won’t have to resign (which they promised they would do if they were fined).
Here is the statement.
Following the emergence of significant new information, an investigation was launched by Durham constabulary into a gathering at the Miners’ Hall, in Redhills, Durham on 30 April 2021. That investigation has now concluded.
A substantial amount of documentary and witness evidence was obtained which identified the 17 participants and their activities during that gathering. Following the application of the evidential full code test, it has been concluded that there is no case to answer for a contravention of the regulations, due to the application of an exception, namely reasonably necessary work.
Accordingly, Durham constabulary will not be issuing any fixed penalty notices in respect of the gathering and no further action will be taken. The investigation has been thorough, detailed and proportionate.
The final evidence supplied by participants from the local constituency was returned to Durham police on 5 July and analysed by investigators against all the evidence before the investigation was concluded on 8 July 2022.
In line with established national policing guidelines, we will not name or otherwise identify any of those present at the gathering, all of whom have been informed of the investigation outcome by their legal representatives.
Durham police to announce decision about Beergate inquiry
We are about to get a Beergate announcement, my colleague Heather Stewart reports.
Johnson won't make big tax or spending changes before he steps down, No 10 says
At the Downing Street lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson also confirmed that Boris Johnson does not intend to make any big changes on tax or spending before he steps down. Here are the main points.
- The spokesperson said Johnson would not make any big changes on tax or spending before he left office. He said:
The prime minister set out to cabinet yesterday ... that essentially the government will focus on delivering pre-agreed policy, delivering on the manifesto commitments.
It won’t seek to make any large fiscal changes, nor will it seek to unpick previously-agreed policy.
Asked whether the government would react to situations such as supply shocks and rising energy prices, the spokeperson said:
The government would not seek to do anything on the fiscal side, particularly those that would have significant impact for a future prime ministers.
Now, a responsible government does need to react to emerging issues, but I would point out that we do have significant support already in place for the global cost of living pressures that we are seeing, including measures which have not yet been introduced.
- The spokesperson confirmed that Johnson will remain as PM until a new Tory leader has been elected. He will not make way for a caretaker PM.
- The spokesperson said more ministerial appointments would be announced today and that most ministerial vacancies would be filled. He said:
We are in the process of making parliamentary undersecretary of state appointments so they will be coming out shortly.
Asked whether the number of ministers would again reach pre-Tuesday levels, the spokesperson said: “I don’t know if exactly the same but broadly.”
On Tuesday Downing Street said that Boris Johnson and other ministers would be holding regular press conferences on the government’s plans for the economy. Three days later, No 10 has now (understandably - a lot has happened since) dropped the idea, the PM’s spokesperson told journalists at the Downing Street lobby briefing.
James Cleverly, the new education secretary, suggested this morning that Sir John Major’s call for Boris Johnson to be forced out of office quickly, perhaps with a caretaker PM standing in for him, is motivated by malice. Asked about the Major proposal, Cleverly told PA Media:
John Major, a grandee of the party but he has never liked or supported the prime minister, of course, he is completely entitled to his view, I fundamentally disagree with him.
The prime minister has said he is standing down, the timescale for that departure will be defined by the process that the 1922 Committee and the Conservative party put in place.
Everyone recognised that needs to be done professionally but quickly and I think that the prime minister has been able to form a Government to discharge our duty to the British people until that process is concluded.
Tugendhat launches leadership bid with call for 'clean start' and national insurance increase to be abandoned
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, has used an article in the Daily Telegraph to set out his pitch for the Conservative party leadership. He is the first candidate to produce an outline manifesto and, although Tugendhat is very much an outsider in the contest (YouGov published some useful polling yesterday) his article does provide some interesting clues as to how the contest may play out. Here are the main points.
- Tugendhat says the Conservative party needs “a clean start”. He mentions this phrase four times in the article and, given that almost all the other candidates have served in cabinet under Boris Johnson – and defended him over Partygate and other scandals – this label has an obvious appeal. Tugendhat says:
We also need a change. This nation needs a clean start and a government that will make trust, service and an unrelenting focus on the cost of living crisis its guiding principles.
That is what the British people deserve and it is what we will be judged on. It cannot be achieved without a clean start – unsullied by the events of the past, but also with proven experience and leadership.
Steve Baker, another potential contender, can also claim to be a clean start candidate. Jeremy Hunt, who will be competing with Tugendhat for the one nation vote, will argue too that he represents a fresh start, but he served in cabinet for nine years under David Cameron and Theresa May. Tugendhat has never been a minister, which gives him much more novelty value.
- Tugendhat says that he wants taxes to be cut. He says:
Taxes, bluntly, are too high and there is an emerging consensus across the party that they must come down. We should immediately reverse the recent national insurance hike and let hard-working people, and employers, keep more of their money. Fuel tax must come down. And un-conservative tariffs, that push up prices for consumers, should be dropped.
What is interesting about this is that Tugendhat is perceived as about the most leftwing candidate in the contest. If he is arguing for immediate tax cuts, it is likely everyone else in the contest will be doing that too. Rishi Sunak will have difficulty if this does become the consensus position in the contest because he introduced these tax increases as chancellor.
- Tugendhat also says the recent national insurance increase should be reversed immediately (see quote above). This is a particularly bold iteration of the low tax position because abandoning the increase is Labour party policy and 318 Tory MPs voted in favour of this tax rise when it was put to parliament in September. Tugendhat was not one of the five Tories who voted against. But he did not vote in the final division, and that will help him argue that his position has been consistent.
- Tugendhat says he wants to “heal the Brexit divide”. Tugendhat voted remain in 2016, and this must be a problem for someone seeking to lead a party that is now – in parliament and amongst the membership as a whole – predominantly leave. Explaining his policy, Tugendhat says:
I am putting together a broad coalition of colleagues that will bring new energy and ideas to government and, finally, to bridge the Brexit divide that has dominated our recent history.
Leave candidates are likely to focus not so much on healing the Brexit divide but as getting Brexit done (by which they mean deregulating to take advantage of any opportunities provided by the UK not having to comply with EU rules).
It sounds as if the Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson is getting fed up of approaches from no-hope leadership candidates.
According to the latest YouGov polling for the Times, Labour has the highest lead over the Conservatives since January. This is from the Times’ Patrick Maguire.
Boris Johnson has described the assassination of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as “incredibly sad news”.
A majority of voters think Boris Johnson should resign as an MP when he ceases to be prime minister, a YouGov poll suggests.
Presumably this is an indication of Johnson’s unpopularity, and people thinking that he has been so disreputable that, not only should he stop being PM, he is not suitable to be an MP either.
But there was a time when what was seen as disreputable was for a PM to leave the Commons as soon as they left Downing Street. Tony Blair did this (unlike most of his predecessors, who had at least stayed on as an MP at least until the next election), and he was accused of abandoning his constituents. David Cameron faced the same criticism when he quit parliament very soon after leaving No 10 too.
James Duddridge, Johnson’s PPS, has said that Johnson will stay on as an MP. Cameron had the same intention too, but he changed his mind when it became obvious that his successor, Theresa May, was going to adopt policies that he would not be willing to support publicly. This might not worry Johnson so much because many people assume that, once he is out of office, he will want to prioritise making money, giving speeches and writing books.
Talking of Michael Gove, today he was due to be representing the government at the 7th British-Irish Council Summit, which is taking place on Guernsey.
The Irish taoiseach (PM) is due to be there, as are the first ministers of Scotland and Wales. Gove was due to attend on behalf of the UK government, but Conor Burns, the Northern Ireland minister, will take his place. Burns has been tweeting about it this morning.
Sarah Vine has used her column in the Daily Mail to reveal a little of what happened when Boris Johnson rang her ex-husband, Michael Gove, to tell him he was being sacked from his post as levelling up secretary. Gove told Vine:
The prime minister rang me a few minutes ago and told me it was time for me to step back. I said, respectfully, ‘Prime Minister, if anyone should be stepping back, it is you.’
Gove was sacked because Johnson decided he could no longer trust him, and the last straw seems to have been a Mail article on Wednesday saying Gove told Johnson before PMQs that he should quit. No 10 assumed Gove briefed the story, and a No 10 source described Gove as “a snake”. According to Politico’s London Playbook, that led to a row between Guto Harri, the PM’s head of communications, and Josh Grimstone, Gove’s special adviser, that was the talk of the Spectator party last night.
Most of the chatter from last night’s Spectator party concerned an altercation between Michael Gove’s (former) special adviser Josh Grimstone and No 10’s freewheeling director of comms Guto Harri. Witnesses said Grimstone confronted Harri and told him repeatedly he was a “fucking disgrace”, accusing him of behaving appallingly on Wednesday when ministers were resigning in droves and a Cabinet delegation went in to tell Johnson to resign. Harri responded by saying it was a matter of opinion.
John Stevens, who wrote the Mail story, subsequently said it did not come from Gove or his team.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, is considering standing in the Tory leadership contest, according to Esther Webber at Politico. “[Patel has] long been a darling of the Tory grassroots and may feel this is her moment, although her time in charge of the Home Office has not convinced everyone she’s a steady hand on the tiller,” Webber writes.
According to the Sun’s Harry Cole, Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie have decided not to hold their wedding party in Chequers anyway. (See 9.13am.)
Johnson should be allowed to use Chequers for wedding party even if new PM elected by then, Cleverly says
One reason why Boris Johnson does not seem to be in any hurry to leave No 10 is that he has a big party planned for Chequers at the end of July, to celebrate the first anniversary of his marriage to Carrie. When the couple married last year, Covid restrictions meant they could only hold a small reception.
In his interview on the Today progamme James Cleverly, the new education secretary, said Johnson should be allowed to hold that party at Chequers regardless of when his successor gets elected. He said:
I suspect that it would be a rather generous action of the new prime minister to allow that to go ahead. Like so many people, many, many, many people across the country had their wedding plans and celebrations disrupted because of Covid. I think it’s churlish to be negative about two people who want to celebrate their marriage and their love for each other.
Even when a new prime minister is elected, getting the Johnsons out of Chequers might not be straightforward. After Johnson resigned as foreign secretary, it took officials three weeks to get him to leave his official residence at One Carlton Gardens. A short grace period is normal for MPs who have to leave grace-and-favour accommodation, but Foreign Office officials got increasingly exasperated at Johnson’s refusal to budge.
Tory MPs accept Johnson likely to stay until successor elected as support for caretaker PM plan fades
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Hamish Mackay.
When Boris Johnson announced his resignation yesterday, there were immediate calls for him to be forced out of No 10 within days, and for Dominic Raab to take over as caretaker or interim prime minister pending the election of Johnson’s successor. Sir John Major was perhaps the most senior figure to argue for this, but others made the case too.
Twenty four hours later, it feels as if that argument is close to being settled – and not in Major’s favour. Johnson has made it clear that he intends to stay as PM until a new Tory leader is elected, and this morning James Cleverly, the new education secretary who has been speaking for the government on the morning interview round, made the same argument. He told Sky News:
There’s no such thing as a caretaker prime minister. In our system, there is a prime minister. [Johnson] is resigning from his role as prime minister and leader of the the party once a successor has been appointed.
Caroline Nokes, a Conservative MP who has been very critical of Johnson, was on the Today programme earlier and she was asked about the caretaker PM proposal. She said there were “legitmate questions” as to whether Johnson should be allowed to stay on, because of his character. But she implied that she would not fight hard for a caretaker arrangement (which would be unprecedented anyway – there is no provision for people to be appointed PM on a temporary, caretaker basis) and she said the priority was to speed up the contest.
If we can achieve that [complete the leadership contest] within weeks rather than within months, then I think we have to focus on that. We should focus on the leadership contest and just get it under way and then over and done with as soon as possible.
This helps to explain why in his Today programme interview earlier Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee, declared the caretaker PM plan dead, saying “that ship has sailed”. (See 7.51pm.) Clifton-Brown, like Nokes, is also someone who is not a Johnson loyalist.
Amid the chaos of Johnson’s resignation, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Labour could also soon be looking for a new leader.
Sir Keir Starmer has promised to step down if fined for an event in Durham during lockdown in which he and other party activists ate takeaway food and drank beer on a campaigning trip.
Asked about this on Today, Rayner says neither she nor Starmer will appeal if found by Durham Police to have broken coronavirus rules.
We’ll accept the findings.
You know, it’s very clear that both myself and Keir believe that we believe in the rule of law.
We believe that if you’re a lawmaker, you can’t be a lawbreaker, and that we couldn’t lead the party under those conditions.
We’ve got a prime minister who spent the last couple of months trying to cling on to power that has devastated the British public and we’ve not been dealing with the issues that matter to them.
That’s it from me for this morning, my colleague Andrew Sparrow is now taking over.
Rayner says Labour will table no confidence motion if Johnson does not go quickly
Next up on this morning’s media rounds is Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner.
She tells the BBC that Labour will call a no-confidence vote in the prime minister if the Conservative party does not get rid of him immediately.
Asked if her party will seek to speed up his departure from No 10, she says:
We will if the Conservatives don’t get their act together and get rid of Boris Johnson.
He’s a proven liar who’s engulfed in sleaze and we can’t have another couple of months of this.
So they do have to get rid of him, and if they don’t, we will call a no confidence vote because it’s pretty clear - he hasn’t got the confidence of the house or the British public.
More now from the 1922 Committee’s Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who says that while in an “ideal world” deputy PM Dominic Raab would have been made caretaker prime minister after Johnson’s speech yesterday, “that ship has sailed”.
I think in an ideal world, Dominic Raab, as deputy prime minister, should have been the caretaker prime minister, but that ship I think has sailed and we must we must now live with the fact that Boris Johnson will be prime minister until a successor can be voted on.
[Johnson] has said very clearly that he won’t be making any major changes during that period. And I think that is a good thing.
How will a new Tory leader be chosen?
It is for the Conservative MPs and then party members to determine a Tory leader, who is then prime minister as the party has a Commons majority.
To take part in the race, a Tory MP has to be nominated by eight colleagues.
Once all the candidates have declared, Tory MPs will hold a series of votes until only two remain. In the first round, candidates must get 5% of the votes to stay in the running, which is 18 votes.
In the second round they must get 10%, which is currently 36 MPs. In the following rounds, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated until two candidates remain.
When two MPs are left in the race, party members get to make their final choice before a deadline set by the 1922 Committee.
In 2019, when Johnson replaced May, the entire leadership process took about six weeks.
Assuming the new leader was able to command the confidence of the Commons, they would not be required to call a general election.
The treasurer of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs says the battle for the next prime minister is likely to go to the Conservative party membership.
This would happen if, once the candidates are whittled down to two by Tory MPs, one refuses to concede.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said:
In this case, I think there is a lot of competition. And I would be surprised if it didn’t go to the membership in the country.
I think, actually, under these circumstances with the division in the party, I think it is a good thing that it goes to the to the membership so they have an opportunity to have their say and a vote.
New Tory leader needed 'pretty quickly', says Cleverly
Finally from James Cleverly’s appearance on Sky News, he insists Boris Johnson “is resigning” as prime minister, despite not having used the word in his resignation speech.
He is resigning from his role as prime minister and leader of the the party once a successor has been appointed.
It’s right that he has stood down and it’s right that he has put a team in place to continue governing whilst the selection procedure flows for his successor.
And we should do that I think pretty quickly, pretty promptly.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson says he is “utterly appalled” at the shooting of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
For the latest developments on that story, you can follow our dedicated live blog here.
Asked what he’s looking for in a new Tory leader, Cleverly says it needs to be someone who is “a good governor … a good campaigner”.
Does it need to be a Brexiteer? “Brexit is done,” he replies.
On whether he would support someone who “stabbed Johnson in the back”, he doesn’t give a clear answer – but says he and many other Tory MPs feel that potential leaders can expect more loyalty if they themselves have shown it to others.
James Cleverly rules out leadership bid
Pressed on whether he will stand to be Johnson’s replacement, Cleverly says he won’t.
I put myself forward last time. I don’t regret that. I really enjoyed it.
As you know, my wife has been going through cancer treatment. While that is going well it hasn’t concluded.
It’s not the right time for me and I feel comfortable that we have a range of candidates within the party that would make excellent prime ministers.
He adds that he is yet to choose who he will support.
Conservative MP James Cleverly, newly appointed as education secretary after Michelle Donelan’s speedy departure from the role, is on Sky News.
He is asked about the news that the Boris and Carrie Johnson are to host a wedding party at Chequers before the PM leaves office.
Cleverly says it is his understanding that this event will be paid for privately rather than by the tax-payer, and adds he is not invited despite considering Johnson a “long-standing friend”.
How the papers reacted to Johnson’s resignation
The chaotic choreography of Boris Johnson’s sort-of resignation as prime minister delivered some contrasting front pages on Friday.
The Guardian has a poster-style front page with a picture of an “unrepentant” Johnson during his resignation speech and the headline “It’s (almost) over” in which the words in parentheses are reduced to much smaller point size.
The Financial Times also highlights the outgoing leader’s “unapologetic” tone in its splash headlined “Johnson quits, defiant to the end”. However, Robert Shrimsley’s front page column says that despite losing the trust of MPs, his historical significance is “indisputable”.
The Mirror has an intriguing claim that Johnson wants to stay on as prime minister in order to hold a “lavish” party at Chequers that has long been pencilled in for 30 July to celebrate his wedding to Carrie last year. “Clinging on for one last party” the headline says.
The Times goes with “Johnson throws in towel”, reporting that his resignation has triggered a “bloody leadership contest”. Columnist Iain Martin says Johnson’s chaotic reign in Downing Street bequeaths his successor a “nightmare inheritance”.
After days of mounting pressure, the prime minister announced yesterday he would step down – but he has vowed not to leave office until a successor is chosen.
Defying calls to leave immediately from both inside and out of his party, Boris Johnson appointed new ministers and said he would continue governing.
He did, however, promise his government would not attempt to implement any new policies or introduce “major changes of direction”, including tax decisions over the coming weeks.
Even before Johnson delivered his ill-tempered exit speech, Conservative MPs’ focus had already switched to who might succeed him – and unlike in 2019, when he had been the prince across the water for months, this time there is no obvious successor.
Within just a few days, the likely shape of the race to be Britain’s next prime minister will be much clearer; but as the starting gun is fired, it looks wide open.
We’ll bring you all the latest political developments throughout the day - and you can catch up with some of yesterday’s events here: