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Boris Johnson defies calls to leave No 10 immediately as Labour threatens no confidence vote – UK politics live


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 is 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).

Tom Tugendhat.
Tom Tugendhat. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Key events:

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 mnister has been able to form a Government to discharge our duty to the British people until that process is concluded.

James Cleverly giving an interview this morning.
James Cleverly giving an interview this morning. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
The scene in Downing Street this morning, where broadcasters are busy, even though there has been no sign of the PM.
The scene in Downing Street this morning, where broadcasters are busy, even though there has been no sign of the PM. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

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 is 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).

Tom Tugendhat.
Tom Tugendhat. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

It sounds as if the Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson is getting fed up of approaches from no-hope leadership candidates.

I have sought counsel from those I can trust to blow smoke up my arse 💨

That, when weighed against my own inflated sense of self-importance, leads me to conclude that I should throw my hat 🎩into the ring and stand for election as Leader of the @Conservative and Unionist Party

— Mark Jenkinson MP (@markjenkinsonmp) July 8, 2022

Over the next six weeks I will be available to promise you the moon on a stick. Ask and it shall be yours.

Let me worry about how I deal with three chancellors and a cabinet of 160. It is having the answers to those questions that makes me the most suitable candidate.

— Mark Jenkinson MP (@markjenkinsonmp) July 8, 2022

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.

Tories in freefall in this week’s Times poll – Labour *eleven* points ahead

CON 29 (-4)
LAB 40 (+1)
LIB DEM 15 (+2)
GREEN 6 (n/c)
REF UK 3 (-1)

Highest Labour score since January… highest Lib Dem rating of this parliament pic.twitter.com/9fSD7zcfZO

— Patrick Maguire (@patrickkmaguire) July 8, 2022

Boris Johnson has described the assassination of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as “incredibly sad news”.

Incredibly sad news about Shinzo Abe.

His global leadership through unchartered times will be remembered by many. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the Japanese people.

The UK stands with you at this dark and sad time.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 8, 2022

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.

Beautiful morning here in St Peter Port in Guernsey. Looking forward to a busy day leading for UK Govt @BICSecretariat as new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland @ShaileshVara heads to NI. Must work to do to listen and work alongside the people of Northern Ireland pic.twitter.com/kTbO9PdbW4

— Conor Burns (@ConorBurnsUK) July 8, 2022

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.)

NEW: The planned Chequers wedding party is being moved to a different location at the end of this month. Source says the idea this has had any bearing on why the PM is staying on as caretaker is “frankly absurd” and where it happens doesn’t matter to them.

— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) July 8, 2022

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

Andrew Sparrow

Andrew Sparrow

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.





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