It’s been another busy day in Westminster, as two of the Tory leadership candidates were defeated in the ballot. Here is a round-up of the day’s top news stories:
- Rishi Sunak has taken an early lead in the Conservative leadership contest, as Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi were knocked out of the race to replace Boris Johnson.
- Penny Mordaunt launched her campaign to lead the Conservative party by vowing to overhaul Boris Johnson’s “failed model of leadership” and comparing the outgoing prime minister to Paul McCartney as she set out plans to dramatically slim down the cabinet.
- She would beat all other candidates in the Tory leadership contest in the final ballot of member - very easily, a YouGov poll for the Times suggests.
- Suella Braverman backer Steve Baker has insisted the attorney general will stay in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, despite only just clearing the minimum number of votes required to continue in the contest.
- Jeremy Hunt has backed Rishi Sunak to be the next prime minister. The former health secretary lost out in his bid to replace Boris Johnson earlier today after failing to get the required 30 nominations.
- Keir Starmer used prime minister’s questions to attack the tax affairs of Tory leadership candidates, while Boris Johnson insisted that while he had not wanted to depart No 10, he was nonetheless doing so “with my head held high”.
- Boris Johnson’s ministers have “given up on governing”, opposition parties have claimed after Priti Patel pulled out of an MPs’ questioning session with minimal notice, while a junior health minister was sent to explain a crisis in ambulance services.
- Sir Mike Penning has told Sky News that he has resigned as a Conservative party vice chair so that he can campaign openly for Penny Mordaunt. He says hers is the campaign with momentum.
- In an interview with Katy Balls for the Spectator, Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership candidate, has explained how she would pay for tax cuts. She would repay Covid debt over a longer period, she said
- Only 11% of voters would recognise a picture of Penny Mordaunt, the international trade minister and Tory leadership candidate, according to a poll by Savanta ComRes.
- Patrick Vallance has warned MPs that the world is about to be plunged into even deeper turmoil than it was during the Covid pandemic because of the impact of climate change.
That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. You can follow all the latest UK politics news here. Goodnight.
Iain Duncan Smith has written in the Daily Telegraph, outlining his support for Liz Truss.
He says the foreign secretary has the “unshakable resolve to get the necessary but difficult reforms through Whitehall to get our economy motoring”, and notes that while she didn’t support Brexit she “has been committed to making the most of our new-found freedoms from the European Union”.
The former Conservative party leader also praised Truss for her stance on China and Russia.
Hunt backs Sunak's campaign to be next PM
Jeremy Hunt has backed Rishi Sunak to be the next prime minister.
The former health secretary lost out in his bid to replace Boris Johnson earlier today after failing to get the required 30 nominations.
Sunak is “one of the most decent, straight people with the highest standard of integrity that I have ever met in British politics”, Hunt told the BBC. “In a period when we need to rebuild trust with the electorate that shows we are in tune with modern Britain.”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said Boris Johnson has “no desire to put a straitjacket” on by serving in government after leaving No 10.
The former Conservative leader, who is backing foreign secretary Liz Truss in the race to succeed Johnson, was asked on LBC if she should ask him to serve in her cabinet if she wins.
He has no desire to put a straitjacket around himself, having to run in accordance with other people’s wishes.
I have a suspicion that Boris will arise in another guise, and as ever he probably will dominate the news but I don’t think he’ll be in a cabinet.
Duncan Smith also advised Johnson to step down as an MP at the next general election, saying:
Once you’ve done the top job, lots of people decide that maybe it’s time they moved aside and no longer were the ghost at the feast.
For those wondering what happens next in the race to be the next Conservative party leader (and, indeed, the next prime minister), the Press Association has put together a handy guide to all the key dates over the coming weeks.
- Thursday 14 July: Second round of voting by Conservative MPs. The field will be narrowed as the least popular candidate gets knocked out.
- Friday 15 July: First debate. Channel 4 will hold the first TV Tory leadership debate with the remaining candidates at 7pm.
- Sunday 17 July: Second debate. ITV will host a televised debate at 7pm.
- Monday 18 July: Third round of voting. The ballot on Monday and subsequent rounds will eliminate the contender with the fewest votes until only two remain – who will then go forward into a postal ballot of party members.
- Monday 18 July: Third debate. Sky News is scheduled to host another TV debate, hosted by Kay Burley.
- Friday 22 July onwards: Hustings are to take place around the country over the summer to help party members determine their choice.
- Monday 5 September: New Tory leader announced when MPs return to Westminster from their summer break.
It was fainting room only at the Cinnamon Club for Penny Mordaunt’s leadership launch. There were no restrictions to the guest list – a welcome change from the Team Rish! campaign – and the private dining room was packed from at least half an hour before the start.
In the front two rows were some of the MP backers. Mordaunt might have hoped for a rather more stellar collection than Andrea Leadsom, David Davis, Maria Miller and Sarah Atherton – not to mention inadequates such as Michael Fabricant and James Gray.
Still, she does have George Freeman, the new Oliver Letwin who is so indecisive he has an existential crisis just choosing what to eat for breakfast, and Charles Walker, the sweetest and most gentle of MPs. So she must be doing something right.
Boris Johnson’s ministers have “given up on governing”, opposition parties have claimed after Priti Patel pulled out of an MPs’ questioning session with minimal notice, while a junior health minister was sent to explain a crisis in ambulance services.
Johnson’s role is now that of a caretaker prime minister, with a brief to implement existing policies but make no significant new decisions. However, there is concern that uninterest inside No 10 plus a huge turnover of ministers has created a power vacuum.
Patel, the home secretary, had been scheduled to update MPs from the Commons home affairs committee on Wednesday morning about policies including progress on deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.
But late on Tuesday, Patel said she could not attend because of “recent changes in government”, without apparent elaboration.
Nadine Dorries has accused fellow Tory MPs of staging a 'coup' against Boris Johnson
The culture secretary has been one of the prime minister’s most ardent supporters, sticking by him even as support for his leadership collapsed at Westminster, PA reported.
In a pre-released clip from BBC Panorama, Dorries says:
I was quite stunned that there were people who thought that removing the prime minister who won the biggest majority that we’ve had since Margaret Thatcher in less than three years.
Just the the anti-democratic nature of what they’re doing alone was enough to alarm me. And for me it was a coup.
The full interview will air later on Wednesday.
Sunak suffers from Daily Mail attacks
Rishi Sunak is discovering that hell hath no fury like the Daily Mail scorned, as the rightwing newspaper dedicates itself to destroying the former chancellor’s bid to be Tory leader.
In the week since Boris Johnson was deposed, the newspaper has remained steadfastly loyal to the outgoing prime minister – and steadfastly opposed to those such as Sunak who helped to force him out of office.
Friday’s front page asked the question: “What the hell have they done?” and blamed a party “in the grip of collective hysteria” for forcing a leadership election.
The following day the 1.4 million people who buy the Mail’s Saturday print edition were informed that the MPs who had deposed Johnson – such as Sunak – were “Tory traitors” who had opened the door to Keir Starmer entering Downing Street as leader of “a coalition of chaos”.
Here is the moment that the 1922 Committee announced the results of the first ballot for Conservative party leader, with Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi falling short.
Suella Braverman-backer Steve Baker has insisted the attorney general will stay in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, despite only just clearing the minimum number of votes required to continue in the contest.
He said: “We have decided we have not yet begun to fight. People underestimate Suella at their peril.”
Braverman received 32 votes in the ballot on Wednesday evening, just above the minimum requirement of 30. The result has already prompted calls for the right wing of the party to coalesce around a candidate, PA reported.
“We are going to battle forwards and we are going to battle forward with a good heart,” Baker told Sky News. “It is not clear that either Rishi or Liz can do it from here.”
After securing 40 votes to progress through the first ballot of the leadership contest, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch tweeted: “I am grateful that so many colleagues supported me this evening.
“To win the next election and deliver Conservative solutions to today’s problems, our party must stand as the party for change.
“I have the conviction, the courage, and the clarity of thought to deliver that change.”
As the various Tory leadership candidates absorb the results from today’s ballot, their spinners are already out looking to shore up their support.
A spokesperson for Liz Truss, who is set to launch her campaign on Thursday, said:
Now is the time for colleagues to unite behind the candidate who will cut taxes, deliver the real economic change we need from day one and ensure Putin loses in Ukraine.
Liz has the experience to deliver the benefits of Brexit from day one, grow our economy and support working families.
Brandon Lewis, who was chairing Nadhim Zahawi’s campaign before the chancellor lost out in the first ballot, said he hopes the “remaining stages of the leadership contest are carried out in a constructive spirit”.
“I am incredibly proud to have chaired Nadhim’s leadership campaign and I must pay tribute to him and the character and decency he has shown throughout,” the former Northern Ireland secretary said in a statement, which did not state who he now intends to support.
“It is my hope that the remaining stages of the leadership contest are carried out in a constructive spirit, in the best interests of our party and the country.
“The British people deserve honourable and effective leadership.”
Jeremy Hunt is advising the remaining leadership candidates to avoid dirty campaigning and to keep the Conservative party a “broad church” in tweets marking his departure from the contest.
That is all from me for tonight. My colleague Tom Ambrose is taking over now.
This is from Suella Braverman, who does not sound minded to concede, even though she only just cleared the threshold for elimination.
Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor who is now out of the leadership contest, has released a statement saying he will not make any further intervention in the contest (ie, he won’t publicly endorse anyone).
He will be hoping that the new leader keeps him at the Treasury, and so he won’t want to antagonise any potential winner.
First round ballot results - snap analysis
Here are three takeaways from the first ballot numbers.
1) The results confirm that Rishi Sunak is the frontrunner among MPs. He had 55 publicly declared supporters, he has comfortably outperformed that total, and he is ahead of his nearest rival by a decent margin. He is also well placed to scoop up many of Jeremy Hunt’s votes, because he has (perhaps improbably) become the lead candidate for the Tory leftish/mainstream who were Hunt’s main backers.
2) But the real story is that these results firm up Penny Mordaunt’s credentials as the “Stop Sunak” candidate. She had 38 publicly declared votes previously, and is now well ahead of Liz Truss. It is hard – but not impossible – to see how she does not get on to the final ballot for party members, and current polling suggests she would then win by a mile. (See 2.47pm.) That might change, of course; her campaign could implode over the next few weeks. But she looks like even more of a favourite than she was.
3) Liz Truss, who at one point was seen as favourite to succeed Boris Johnson, is struggling. Her pitch has been that she was the candidate most capable of defeating Sunak. But she can no longer make that case on the basis of these results, and it is not even obvious that she should remain the lead candidate for the Tory right. Between them, Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman have more votes than she does. The pressure for the right to agree on a candidate who can get on to the final ballot will intensify. Braverman may be tempted to pull out before the ballot tomorrow (she probably won’t get any votes from Hunt supporters, and Nadhim Zahawi’s backers will want to transfer to someone more successful). But Badenoch may well decide to contest at least one more round.
The main focus over the next few hours will be on what the weaker performers still in the contest decide to do. Braverman will come under pressure to concede. Tom Tugendhat may stay in – he would pick up some Hunt votes – but he may decide that now it’s time to cut his losses, and endorse Sunak when he has maximum bargaining power. Badenoch is having a good run, and it would be surprising if she were to quit now.
This is from Esther McVey, who was supporting Jeremy Hunt and who would have been deputy PM in his government if he had become party leader.
Hunt and Zahawi are out as Sunak tops ballot and six candidates go through to round two
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee, is announcing the results of the first ballot.
Rishi Sunak - 88 votes
Penny Mordaunt - 67
Liz Truss - 50
Kemi Badenoch - 40
Tom Tugendhat - 37
Suella Braverman - 32
Nadhim Zahawi - 25
Jeremy Hunt - 18
He says that means Hunt and Zahawi are out of the contest. The others will go ahead to the second ballot tomorrow.
This is from Nusrat Ghani, a vice chair of the 1922 Committee, who has been at the count.
Theresa Villiers, a hardline Brexiter, voted for Rishi Sunak, the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reports.
1922 Committee chair Graham Brady set to announce results of first round of voting in Tory leadership contest
Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 Committee chair, will announce the results of the first round of voting in the leadership contest at 5pm.
As the Evening Standard reports, a poll by Ipsos Mori found that 12% of people said they they knew either a great deal or a fair amount about Stewart Lewis - a fictitious Tory leadership candidate invented by the polling company.
And 6% of people said they knew “a great deal” about him - more than the 5% who knew a great deal about Suella Braveman and the same figure as for Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat, all three of whom are in the contest and do actually exist.
The poll also found that, with the public at large, Rishi Sunak is seen as the candidate who would make the best PM.
Sir Mike Penning has told Sky News that he has resigned as a Conservative party vice chair so that he can campaign openly for Penny Mordaunt. He says hers is the campaign with momentum.
Only 11% of voters would recognise a picture of Penny Mordaunt, the international trade minister and Tory leadership candidate, according to a poll by Savanta ComRes. The equivalent figures for Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are 33% and 66%.
Mordaunt’s rivals are circulating this polling in the hope that it reflects badly on her. In some respects, it does; it shows that, if the party were to choose as as leader, it would be taking a gamble on someone largely unknown. But ‘none of the above’ normally does quite well in polling, and if people don’t know who she is, at least they won’t have taken a dislike to her.
The latest odds on who will be the next Tory leader from William Hill show Mordaunt as the clear favourite. The odds are:
Penny Mordaunt - 4/6
Rishi Sunak - 10/3
Liz Truss - 7/2
Kemi Badenoch - 20/1
Tom Tugendhat - 28/1
Suella Braverman - 100/1
Jeremy Hunt - 100/1
Nadhim Zahawi - 200/1
In an interview with Katy Balls for the Spectator, Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership candidate, has explained how she would pay for tax cuts. She would repay Covid debt over a longer period, she said:
Covid was a one-off crisis. The debt that we accumulated as a result of that, the £400bn we spent, should be seen as a long-term debt – like a war debt – and needs to be longer-term.
I don’t agree with the Treasury orthodoxy of immediately seeking to pay that back and balance the books and damage economic growth.
Here is an intriguing question from below the line.
The answer is no. For that to work, Boris Johnson would first have to persuade Tory MPs to vote no confidence in their own government, which they don’t want to do because they don’t want to have an election they would lose. He would then have to persuade the Queen to grant a general election, which might also be tricky because Buckingham Palace would have good grounds for saying no.
But the decision to schedule a no confidence debate, which Johnson will open, on Monday may explain why he sounded very non-committal about turning up for PMQs next Wednesday. (See 1.36pm.) Margaret Thatcher spoke in a no confidence debate just after announcing her resignation and her performance was seen as a triumph. It was the one where she said: “I’m enjoying this,” after Dennis Skinner joked that she should be governor of the European Central Bank and she brought the house down with her reply, “What a good idea.” Maybe Johnson is hoping to be able to pull off something similar.
Here is a clip from the debate.
Voting closes in first ballot for Tory leadership
Voting has now finished in the first ballot for the Tory leadership.
From Alain Tolhurst from Politics Home
From the BBC’s Peter Saull
From the Sun’s Kate Ferguson
UK government to table no-confidence motion in itself
The government is to table a confidence motion in itself after rejecting a version by Labour that directly criticised Boris Johnson, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.
Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, accepts he will not go any further in the contest, the Sun’s Kate Ferguson reports.
ITV’s Anushka Asthana says Tory MPs are saying Hunt is unpopular with members. The polling certainly implies this. See 2.27pm for the YouGov figures, and this post at ConservativeHome, where the survey of party members found him to be the most unpopular of all the candidates.
Tory MPs have been voting in the first round of the leadership contest. According to the Sun’s Kate Ferguson, who is outside the room and counting, most of the party voted within the first hour or so. The ballot closes at 3.30pm.
Mordaunt would easily beat all other candidates in final ballot of members, YouGov poll suggests
Penny Mordaunt would beat all other candidates in the Tory leadership contest in the final ballot of member - very easily, a YouGov poll for the Times suggests. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, would prove the strongest opponent. But Mordaunt, an international trade minister, would beat her by 55% to 37%, the poll suggests. She would beat Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, by 67% to 28%, the poll suggests.
The figures are based on a poll of a weighted sample of 876 members.
The findings are similar to the results of a survey of about 950 Conservative party members published by the ConservativeHome website yesterday. That also found Mordaunt on course to beat all rivals, and some of the ConHome results match the YouGov ones reasonably closely. ConHome has Mordaunt beating Truss by 51% to 33%, and beating Sunak by 58% to 31%.
The main difference is that the ConHome survey implied Kemi Badenoch is the candidate with the best chance of beating Mordaunt. It had Mordaunt beating her by just 46% to 40%. YouGov has Mordaunt winning that contest by 59% to 30%. But the ConHome survey is not weighted, and many of its respondents are presumably readers of the website, which was given Badenoch some particularly good positive coverage recently.
The ConHome results attracted less attention than they otherwise might have done because they coincided with an Opinium poll of party members suggesting Sunak would beat Truss and Mordaunt on the final ballot for members.
But the Opinium fieldwork was carried out between 6 and 8 July. (Its sample was smaller too - 493 people.) YouGov’s fieldwork took place between 12 and 13 July. Given that it is more up to date, and that it coincides with the results of the ConHome survey (which has a good track record in these contests), YouGov is probably the better guide to the state of the contest.
Only 35% of Britons trust government, below OECD average, ONS says
Only a third of the UK population trust the government, according to statistics published this morning by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The survey was carried out in March as “Partygate” and high profile scandals involving controversies over government cronyism, rule-breaking, and lies dominated the political headlines.
Levels of trust varied by type of government institution, however: the civil service was trusted by 55% of those surveyed, and local government by over 40%. Political parties were trusted by just 20% of respondents.
Trust was far higher in public services: the NHS recorded 80% trust levels, followed by the courts and legal system (68%). Police and education each scored over 60%. High levels of trust were associated with high levels of satisfaction with services.
The ONS survey was carried out as part of a wider study involving OECD countries. This showed UK government trust levels of 35% (around 50% said they did not trust the government) were slightly below the OECD average of 41%.
Polled on political participation, 57% of ONS respondents said they had signed a petition, 56% said they had voted in the last local election, and 27% had boycotted certain products for political reasons. Just 18% said they had posted or forwarded political content on social media
PMQs - snap verdict
That wasn’t meant to be Boris Johnson’s last PMQs. But it sounded as if, mentally, he has already checked out, and as if he has other plans for 12pm next Wednesday. That was one implication of his final answer to Keir Stamer, where he said:
The next leader of my party may be elected by acclamation, so it is possible this will be our last confrontation, it is possible.
So, I want to thank him for the style in which he conducted himself. I think it would be fair to say he has been considerably less lethal than many other members of this house.
It is perfectly true that I leave not at a time of my choosing, it is absolutely true, but I am proud of the fantastic teamwork that has been involved in all of those projects both nationally and internationally, and I am also proud of the leadership that I have given.
I will be leaving with my head held high.
No 10 are saying that Johnson does intend to do PMQs next week. But this did sound very valedictory, and it is possible, of course, that the No 10 press office has not yet been told about the trip to Ukraine, or the mystery bout of Covid, or some other hypothetical that might stop Johnson being PM next Wednesday.
Both of those sound more probable than the scenario mentioned by Johnson as a possible reason for another PM being in place next week - a decision by Tory MPs to elect a new leader by acclamation, bypassing the need for a vote of party members. There is precedent for this; it is what happened when Andrea Leadsom made the final shortlist of two and subsequently pulled out, leaving Theresa May elected party leader without a membership ballot. But Conservative HQ wants the members to have a say (May’s premiership arguably suffered because she had not acquired a personal mandate), and leadership candidates have had to promise that they won’t do a Leadsom as a condition for being allowed to take part. So what on earth was Johnson on about?
Sky’s Beth Rigby has wondered if this all part of strong-arming Liz Truss into No 10. But that would involve her getting onto the final ballot (likely, but not inevitable), and the other candidate (Rishi Sunak?) pulling out (very, very unlikely).
If that was Johnson’s final PMQs, it was bereft of anything solemn or deep. (Tony Blair produced the best PMQs departure quotes in modern times.) But Johnson was astonishingly upbeat and chipper, all things considering. It wasn’t a performance to persuade Tory MPs that they might have made a mistake, but it was a testament to his resilience. Keir Starmer had plenty of good jibes about the Tory leadership candidates, but today they just bounced off.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, calls for the two Alba MPs thrown out of the chamber earlier to be suspended from the house. (See 12.05pm.) The motion is passed quickly and without opposition. That means they are expelled from parliament for the day.
Sam Tarry (Lab) asks about the murder of Zara Aleena. And there has been another attack on a woman in Ilford, he says. What is the government doing to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls?
Johnson says knife crime is a scourge. Allowing more stop and search would help, he says. And he says tackling rape is important to all MPs. The government has invested in measures to help keep women safe, he says.
PMQs is now over.
Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government thinktank has got a plausible explanation for why Johnson earlier implied this might be his last PMQs. (See 12.20pm.)
It would not be at all surprising if Johnson were to decide to spend next Wednesday in Kyiv.
Rishi Sunak’s campaign team has responded with this to Keir Starmer’s implicit attack on him (over non-dom status) at PMQs earlier.
Patricia Gibson (SNP) says Johnson resigned after MPs who had supported him changed their minds. So why shouldn’t the people of Scotland be allowed to change their minds about independence too?
Johnson says he thinks the SNP is deciding what to do about Gibson.
Stewart McDonald (SNP) asks for an inquiry into the Panorama investigation into the killing of Afghans in cold blood by special forces.
Johnson says the government does not comment on special forces. That does not mean it accepts the allegations, he says.
Jack Brereton (Con) thanks the PM for what he has done to level up Stoke-on-Trent.
Johnson says Brereton is right. Stamer knows more about Stoke Newington than Stoke-on-Trent, he says. He says he wants to help people into good jobs. He leaves office with unemployment at 3.8%. When Labour left office, it was 8%, he says.
Jon Trickett (Lab) asks about a constituent who died waiting for hospital treatment. Does the PM accept we are living through an emergency health crisis?
Johnson says the NHS has a record number of people working in it. The key thing is to get patients moving through the system. Delayed discharge is making things very difficult for hospitals. That is why fixing social care is crucial, he says.
Sir Mike Penning (Con) thanks the PM for delivering Brexit, and for the vaccine rollout programme. He asks about plans for a hospital in Watford. Will the PM tell his successor to build a new hospital?
Johnson offers Penning a meeting with a minister.
Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru leader at Westminster, says 37% of children in the places she represents are growing up in poverty. Will he scrap the two-child limit for benefits?
Johnson says the Welsh government is responsible for schools in Wales. The government will come out strongly from this, he says.
Katherine Fletcher (Con) says people in the north of England are proud of their industrial heritage. Will the PM back a plan to reopen a tram bridge across the Ribble?
Johnson says he has built more bridges than any other MP. At this stage in his career, he cannot promise to build this bridge. But there are eight people Fletcher could approach. “She is in a strong bargaining position,” he says.
Johnson says his departure won't mean end of Brexit
Jacob Young (Con) says the people of Redcar are grateful for what Johnson achieved. And people are grateful to him for delivering Brexit. Is the PM optimistic about the future?
Johnson says people think his departure means “the end of Brexit”. They are wrong, he says.
Stephen Farry (Alliance) says a recent poll suggests only 5% of people in Northern Ireland trust the goverment. Will the PM apologise for how he has left affairs in NI?
Johnson says the government has a bill to fix the problems with the NI protocol.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says the Tory leadership contest is quickly descending “into a toxic race to the right”. They are all trying to outdo each other on an extreme Brexit. Is the reason the PM won’t endorse any of these “awful candidates” because the next leader will “make Genghis Khan look like a moderate”.
Johnson says he hopes the next leader will protect the union.
Blackford says he hopes the next Tory leader will be as popular in Scotland as Johnson.
Many families will not be able to afford heating this winter, he says. He says people in Scotland do not just want rid of Johnson; they want rid of the whole system.
Johnson says the government is increasing support for people with the cost of living. The last thing the people of Scotland need “is more constitutional wrangling when we need to fix the economy”.
Johnson says he will be leaving No 10 'with my head held high'
“I really am going to miss this weekly nonsense from him,” Starmer says.
He quotes from Rishi Sunak’s resignation letter, saying it implied the PM could not tell the truth. Now Sunak says he wants to fix the economy. Can he think of any jobs Sunak has done that might have had an impact on the economy?
Johnson says the next Tory leader might be elected by acclamation. So this might be his last PMQs, he claims.
(Almost no one expects that, and the Tory election rules say this should not happen.)
Johnson says Starmer has been “considerably less lethal” than other Labour leaders.
He says it is true that he is leaving “not at a time of my choosing”. But he is proud of the initiatives he has started, and the leadership he has shown. He goes on:
I will be leaving soon with my head held high.
Starmer says Johnson is “totally deluded to the bitter end”. Nadhim Zahawi would cut some budgets by 20% to fund tax cuts. Was he speaking on behalf of the government when he made those promises?
Johnson says this is “pitiful stuff” from a party that voted against the health and social care levy.
He says the government has got growth because the government came out of lockdown when Starmer said that would be reckless.
Starmer says the Tory leadership candidates have promised £330bn in giveaways. That is double the budget of the NHS. Does the PM agree they should explain where the cash comes from?
Johnson says all the commitments he has heard are very good. The government will hire more police officers, and build 40 new hospitals, he claims. Labour voted against the funding for that. And he says Labour proposes extra spending worth £94bn.
Starmer asks if the PM agrees that any leadership candidate should declare if they have been part of a non-dom scheme.
Johnson says as far as he is aware all MPs pay their taxes. He says he does not approve of this constant vilifaction of MPs. Labour is happy to see people languishing on benefits, he says.
Starmer asks if the PM is concerned about people using non-dom schemes to avoid tax.
Johnson says he is glad when people invest in this country. He says Starmer seems to be asking about the leadership candidates. Any of them would wipe the floor with “Captain crasheroony snoozefest”, he says.
Keir Starmer welcomes the new cabinet to their places. There is a new chancellor who accepted a job on Wednesday afternoon (it was Tuesday night, in fact) and who told the PM to resign on Thursday morning. And the new Northern Ireland secretary once asked if he needed a passport to go to Derry. Now the PM can say what he thinks. Will he scrap non-dom status?
Johnson says he is grateful for the ability to speak his mind, “which I never really lost”. He is carrying on with governing the country. From tomorrow, eight million vulnerable people are getting £326. In May the economy grew by 0.5%. Payroll employment is up, he says.
He says one of the consolations about leaving office now is that vacancies are at an all-time high.
(That is a joke about job seeking, that does not really land.)
The i’s Hugo Gye has a bit more on the protest.
Two Alba MPs ordered out of Commons chamber for being disruptive during PMQs
The two Alba MPs, Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, are ordered out for being disruptive. They are former SNP MPs; Alba is the party set up by Alex Salmond.
Boris Johnson is trying to start, but there is a huge amount of barracking. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, calls for order. From the TV, it is not clear who is causing the trouble.
There is loud cheering as Boris Johnson arrives in the chamber.
After refusing to allow a no confidence debate on a motion crafted by Labour, the government is now tabling its own no confidence motion, the BBC’s Nick Eardley reports.
Patel criticised for not turning up to home affairs committee hearing
Priti Patel, the home secretary, pulled out of giving evidence to the home affairs select committee today at the eleventh hour. It is highly unusual for a government minister to do this. She was due to be probed about controversial issues such as the policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, Windrush and Home Office culture and problems at the passport office.
In a letter to the committee, Patel attributed her absence to the recent changes in government and to the ministerial team in her department along with “wider unprecedented changes” as a reason for her failure to attend the evidence session. She suggested postponing until September.
However, in a strong response, committee chair Dame Diana Johnson (Lab) wrote:
You are still the home secretary and in a statement you released last week you implied that you did not resign from government because you felt ‘the position of home secretary demands the holder of office to be entirely focused on the business of government and our national security’.
We would therefore ask why, a week on, you now feel it is acceptable to avoid a key element of the role – facing up to much needed scrutiny of that essential work.
Johnson said the committee expected Patel to give evidence next Wednesday, rather than the September date the home secretary proposed.
More than 200,000 Covid deaths have been recorded across the UK, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics released this morning.
A total of 200,247 Covid deaths have occurred, with 294 in the last week. The figures include deaths due to Covid-19 as well as those involving the virus.
More than 100,000 deaths had been registered in the UK by early January 2021, less than a year into the pandemic. It has taken more than a year and a half for the death toll to double, with vaccination uptake, better understanding of how to treat the virus and social distancing measures all contributing to fewer deaths.
The UK has one of the highest death tolls in Europe, with a death rate of 2,689 per million people. The rate is higher than in Spain, with a rate of 2,295 deaths per million people, France, with 2,230, and Germany, with 1,704 deaths per million people, according to figures from Our World In Data as of 12 July.
Johnson set to take PMQs for first time since announcing he will be leaving No 10
Boris Johnson will be taking PMQs in 10 minutes.
It will be his first since he announced he was resigning last week, and almost certainly his second last ever. After PMQs next week, the summer recess starts – and a new PM is meant to be in place by the time of the first PMQs in September.
Penny Mordaunt's launch - verdict from Twitter commentariat
And this is what political journalists and commentators are saying about Penny Mordaunt’s launch.
From the author and broadcaster Steve Richards
From the i’s Paul Waugh
From ITV’s Paul Brand
From Darren McCaffrey from GB News
From Talk TV’s Kate McCann
Penny Mordaunt's launch - snap verdict
At the start of a leadership contest the best place to be positioned is far, far ahead – the undisputed runaway favourite (Gordon Brown in 2007). But normally the favourite is only slightly ahead, and in those circumstances it often helps to be a little behind (plausible, but not the frontrunner), gaining momentum and new/interesting/relatively unknown (David Cameron in early 2005). People get bored easily, and so outsider candidates are like a new date.
All this helps to explain why Mordaunt is getting plaudits for her launch, and why the prospect of her being the next Tory leader seems a tiny bit closer than it was first thing this morning. She was confident, interesting, and articulate. In the Conservative party having a forces background is equivalent to coming from a mining family in the Labour party, and Mordaunt’s record on this is impeccable. Her father was in the army, she has been a Royal Navy reservist, and she represents a naval city (Portsmouth), which is close to to where she grew up. She invoked the spirit of the Falklands in her speech (see 10.37am) and this passage was more inspiring than anything any of her rivals have come up with.
As for the rest of it, it was less memorable. But she did make a stab at talking about policy, in a way that implies she has given some thought to how she would govern the country (although God knows what she meant when she talked about aligning the government and business/charity planning cycles). She was less eager to offer implausible promises on tax cuts than many other candidates have been. She is a Brexiter who’s acceptable to Tory one-nation types, and she said nothing today to alienate either faction, while still managing to sound interesting, competent and not objectionable.
She also handled the media skilfully, with soundbite answers on the “Can a woman have a penis?” type questions (see 10.53am and 10.57am) that Labour politicians – who have mostly been tied in knots by these questions – could learn from.
There is still a huge amount that could go wrong with Mordaunt’s campaign. And this was only a launch. But it was a successful one.
Tom Tugendhat says defence budget should be protected from 'bean counters' - but claims that's not jibe at Sunak
Conservative leadership candidate Tom Tugendhat has denied taking a potshot at Rishi Sunak after saying that defence spending should be protected from “bean counters or spreadsheets”.
Speaking outside parliament, he also insisted that the contest should go all the way to a party members’ vote “because otherwise democracy in the party will be undermined”.
The former soldier and chair of the foreign affairs committee, told journalists:
When we are talking about defence spending we have got to be absolutely clear that we will never put the safety of our country in doubt because of bean counters or spreadsheets. Security always comes before spreadsheets.
So this is one of those moments where we have got to be very, very careful as we fight this battle of ideas that we make sure that what we are doing is reinforcing British strength.
Challenged on whether he was having a go at Sunak – who reportedly resisted pressure for a big increase in UK defence spending when he was chancellor and who has insisted that Britain should not be told “comforting fairytales” about spending – Tugendhat said that he was not. He told reporters:
I am not going to name anyone, but it’s absolutely up to you to look quite hard at where people are talking about various things and just where different people are putting their aim and putting their targets, as it were, for defence.
Q: How do you define a woman?
Mordaunt says she is biologically a woman. And she says that as someone who has served in the Royal Navy (as a reservist), and competed against men, “you understand the biological difference between men and women”.
That’s it. The launch is over.
Mordaunt refuses to say Johnson was good prime minister
Q: Was Boris Johnson a good prime minister?
Mordaunt says: “I think we should thank him for delivering Brexit – it was an incredibly difficult thing to do – and I think we should remember him for that.”
Mordaunt is asked what seems to be a question about trans people, and how you define a woman. (It is not clear, because the questioner is not using a microphone, and so TV viewers cannot hear.) Mordaunt replies:
It was Margaret Thatcher who said every prime minister needs a Willie. A woman like me does not have one.
Mordaunt claims she is candidate 'that Labour fear most'
Mordaunt says if the Tories do not win the next election, the prospect of Brexit gains will be lost. She is the candidate most likely to win the election for the Tories, she says. She goes on:
I am the candidate that Labour fear the most.
(This is probably more than an idle boast. Some Labour figures say the same in private.)
Mordaunt plays down, but does not rule out, prospect of calling early general election
Q: People don’t know who you are. If you win, will you call an election to get a mandate?
Mordaunt says she stood on the same platform as other MPs. They have a mandate. The British people want them to get on and deliver it, she says.
Mordaunt is now taking questions.
In response to one about her family policy, she says she is proposing to spend the same amount of money, only distributed in a different way.
Mordaunt says the British public stepped forward during the pandemic.
They are capable and responsible people. They expect their government to be too.
Mordaunt says she is committed to the manifesto commitments on defence spending, and meeting the Nato defence pledge.
But she would also take some tasks away from the defence forces, she says. She says she wants to set up a civil defence force to deal with civil defence matters.
Mordaunt is now talking about her family policy. (See 9.29am.)
She says she would also create tasforces to improve access to GPs and dentists, and to speed up housebuilding.
She says she wants to align government planning cycles with the business and charity sectors, which are already aligned.
Mordaunt says Whitehall needs change. Under her, it would happen quickly.
There would be a tighter cabinet, with ministers given clear timetables for delivery.
She says her main fiscal rule is that debt as a proportion of GDP should fall over time. She goes on:
My monetary policy will be on controlling inflation and our supply side reforms will yield a Brexit dividend on investment, infrastructure, incentives, and innovation.
She says she would have a “relentless focus on cost of living issues”.
On day one she would slash VAT on fuel at the pumps by half.
And she would raise income tax thresholds for basic and middle earners in line with inflation.
Mordaunt says recently the Tory party has lost its sense of self.
Comparing it to Glastonbury, she says it has been like listening to Paul McCartney play his new songs. What people want is the old stuff, she says: concepts like a small state, and personal responsibility.
She says the public is fed up with government not delivering.
Penny Mordaunt launches campaign for Tory leadership
Penny Mordaunt is holding her campaign launch.
She is introduced by Andrea Leadsom, the former cabinet minister, who describes her as totally honourable.
Mordaunt says she has been undertaking the equivalent of parliamentary speed-dating as she has been meeting MPs.
MPs are people who want to serve, she says. They are people who want to take responsibility. She says she has asked herself why.
In her case, it goes back to being a nine-year-old watching the Falklands task force leave Portsmouth. She says she did not know much about it at the time, but she knew that her country stood up to bullies. And that was important – important enough for some of her classmates’ fathers not to return home.
She says Britain does not need a new role in the world. “We just need to be ourselves.”
Sunak says his economic policy amounts to 'common sense Thatcherism'
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor who is seen as the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, has given an interview to the Daily Telegraph in which he has presented his economic approach as “common sense Thatcherism”. He told the paper:
We will cut taxes and we will do it responsibly. That’s my economic approach. I would describe it as common sense Thatcherism. I believe that’s what she would have done.
Sunak also suggested that his upbringing, as the son of a chemist, had some parallels with Thatcher’s. He explained:
If you read her speeches – and I’ve quoted her and Nigel Lawson [the former Tory chancellor] in other lectures I’ve given – her approach to these things was to make sure that as a nation you have to earn what you spend.
She talked about the person at home with their family budget. She talked about that really powerfully. That resonated with me, because that’s how I was brought up.
My mum was a small businesswoman, she was a chemist. I worked in my mum’s small chemist in Southampton. I did my mum’s books – that was part of my job. I also did payroll and accounts every week and every month.
Zahawi said he would give Johnson cabinet job if he wants one
Nadhim Zahawi has also being doing a media round this morning. Here are the highlights.
- Zahawi said he would be willing to offer Boris Johnson a cabinet job. Asked about this on LBC, he said:
Boris Johnson is a friend of mine of 30 years. If he wishes to serve in cabinet, I would certainly offer him a job.
There is precedent for a former prime minister returning to cabinet in a more junior role; Alec Douglas-Home was foreign secretary under Edward Heath after a brief spell as PM in the early 1960s. But it is generally assumed that Johnson would not want to return to cabinet, and that he would prefer to focus on books, giving speeches and earning lots of money.
- Zahawi described Johnson as “probably the most consequential prime minister of his generation”. He told LBC:
[Johnson] has been probably the most consequential prime minister of his generation. If you go back to Margaret Thatcher, John Major, then Tony Blair, and of course, Gordon Brown, and then David Cameron and Theresa May and now Boris Johnson. He’s delivered Brexit.
Given how transformative Brexit has been, this is plausible. (Transformative is not the same as good.)
- Zahawi said that he would only cut income tax when inflation was falling. He told the Today programme:
What I’m talking about is bringing forth income tax up to next year when I hope to see inflation abate, and of course interest rates return to levels lower than today.
This clarification aligns Zahawi’s tax position – which was widely condemned as unrealistic when first unveiled – most closely with Rishi Sunak’s. Zahawi also that said his plans for tax cuts were fully costed, and that he would release full details later.
- He defended his decision to issue an open letter last Thursday morning saying Johnson should step down, only about 36 hours after agreeing to serve Johnson as chancellor. He said that by then the number of ministerial resignations had persuaded him that “we couldn’t realistically have a functioning government” and that his actions showed he was putting the country first.
- He confirmed that he was not ruling out taking the UK out of the European convention on human rights and abolishing the BBC licence fee. Both issues were raised with candidates last night at a hustings with the rightwing Common Sense group of Tory MPs. On the ECHR, Zahawi said:
Nothing is off the table. What I hope will happen is that the domestic legislation that [justice secretary] Dominic Raab is introducing will allow us to deliver the Rwanda policy. It is an important policy to deliver.
And on the BBC he said:
We have to review how the BBC is funded. We have to look at how it is sustainable in the future. We have to review everything. Nothing is off the table.
The economy defied expectations and grew by 0.5% growth in May, my colleague Julia Kollewe writes on the business live blog.
Welcoming the figures, Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor and Tory leadership candidate, said:
It’s always great to see the economy growing but I’m not complacent.
I know people are concerned, so we are continuing to support families and economic growth.
We’re working alongside the Bank of England to bear down on inflation and I am confident we can create a stronger economy for everyone across the UK.
Grant Shapps denies ‘dirty tricks’ by Rishi Sunak’s Tory leadership campaign
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has denied Rishi Sunak’s Conservative leadership campaign has engaged in “dirty tricks”, my colleague Amelia Hill reports.
Penny Mordaunt to launch campaign for Tory leadership, promising to prioritise families
Good morning. Today MPs vote in the first round of the ballot for the Tory leadership. At least one candidate should definitely be eliminated (the one who comes last) and it is possible that two or three more might drop out to, because they fail to hit the 30-vote threshold for proceeding to the next round.
The contest is probably more open than any previous Tory leadership contest at this stage (on the morning of the first ballot) since 2005, but two assessments seem reasonably sound: 1) that Rishi Sunak is the frontrunner and the MP most likely to be on the final ballot; 2) that Liz Truss is probably the lead candidate for the right and the most plausible continuity Johnson figure (his most loyal allies are supporting her), but that her inclusion on the final ballot is less assured than Sunak’s.
Today’s results should give us some sense of how sound both these propostions are.
The candidate posing the biggest challenge to Sunak and Truss is probably Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary who is now an international trade minister. A Brexiter but with a background in Tory one-nation politics (she used to work for David Willetts), and a minister with cabinet experience but who was never part of the Johnson clique and who would be regarded by voters as a fresh start, Mordaunt would beat all other candidates in the final ballot for members, a survey yesterday suggested.
Part of the reason why Mordaunt does well in these surveys is because she is relatively unknown and has not taken strong positions on many policy issues, and so she has not alienated many potential supporters yet. (Admittedly, this did not work for Rehman Chishti.) But today Mordaunt will launch her campaign, and have to start saying what she stands for.
In an article for the Times’ Red Box, she says as prime minister she would prioritise help for families, putting a cabinet minister in charge of this portfolio. She says:
My government will revise the early years and childcare system. This will involve both listening to sector professionals who are already feeding into a live consultation on childcare, and appointing a cabinet-level minister with overall responsibility for family policy.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and my own experience as a child carer for my mum when she was terminally ill has left me with a profound commitment to helping every family to live well.
I believe parents and carers are best placed to decide what’s right for their child. So I plan to move away from a policy of fixed entitlements to tax-free childcare, and instead create a new system of personalised budgets that will allow every child to access their entitlement to subsidised childcare at a time most suited to their family needs.
Family policy did not get a lot of attention during the Johnson years. That might have something to do with the fact that Johnson was never keen to talk about his own, and would not even say how many children there are in his extended family network.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, gives evidence to the Commons transport committee about the rail strikes. Tim Shoveller, chief negotiator at Network Rail and Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, are also giving evidence.
10am: Priti Patel, the home secretary, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee.
10.30am: Penny Mordaunt launches her campaign for the Tory leadership.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at what is expected to be Johnson’s penultimate PMQs.
1.30pm: Voting starts in the first round of the Tory leadership contest. The ballot closes at 3.30pm, and the result will be announced soon afterwards.
2.30pm: Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and lord chancellor, gives evidence to the Lords constitution committee.
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