Boris Johnson will not lead the Tories at the next election but his reign is not over

Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, but it remains unclear when he will actually leave Downing Street.

Thursday saw the man elected with a historic mandate forced out, with his litany of scandals finally catching up with him.

For Tory MPs, it was a cathartic moment and one many had been pushing for since the Owen Paterson scandal in November.

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While going out to bat for the Prime Minister, MPs privately would reveal their misery at “defending the indefensible”, with the mood escalating an all time low in the past week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022.
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One MP told me they were “depressed coming into work and depressed hearing about work”, while others just joked that “it would be over soon so didn’t matter”.

But while the Prime Minister has finally been forced out, there is as yet no timetable for his departure, and Tory MPs are worried just how long will cling on.

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This was exacerbated by his speech outside Downing Street, as well as his performance during the Liaison Committee.

At a time where many expected contrition, Mr Johnson instead highlighted his own personal achievement in winning the 2019 election, insisting “that was “the reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person”.

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He added: “But as we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.”

These are not words accepting wrongdoing, such as over appointing someone he knew had been accused of being a sex pest, it is instead a finger of blame at his own party.

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Boris Johnson resigns and admits its ‘now the will' of Tories that he leaves

Mr Johnson had tried to bring his party down with him in his threats for a general election, and in lashing out at them in his speech relations are now beyond repair.

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One MP labelled him “ridiculous, with no self reflection”, another told me his behaviour showed they were “right now like we were right months ago”.

Not having trust in a leader who is going might not seem the worst thing, but as of right now it’s unclear when he is actually going.

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The Tory party will soon start a leadership race, with 100,000 members then deciding who is the Prime Minister.

The process could take months, with a new leader expected to be in place before the party conference in October.

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Mr Johnson intends to stay until then, with his allies stressing his “strong send of duty to serve his country until a new leader is in place”.

That this gives him time for a big wedding bash at Chequers is of course entirely unrelated.

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Now Tory MPs, crucially from all wings of the party, want Mr Johnson gone not next month, but today, with a caretaker Prime Minister appointed.

With his popularity ratings now astonishingly below where Jeremy Corbyn’s were, there is a belief he’s not just a bad leader, but toxic to the Tory brand.

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Whoever replaces Mr Johnson will have to rebuild trust, a difficult feat with a cabinet tarnished by defending and covering up his behaviour.

The 1922 committee will now hope to reign in Mr Johnson and force him out earlier.

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Conservatives as a party have been bruised and bloodied by this Prime Minister.

Starting afresh will not be easy, and the rebuild needs to happen sooner rather than later.



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