Boris Johnson blocks fresh confidence vote to push him out of Downing Street

Opposition Labour Party attempt to prevent prime minister remaining in office until new Conservative leader is found

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A no-confidence motion in Boris Johnson’s government tabled on Tuesday was blocked by the Conservative Party after the Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer targeted the lame duck leader by name.

It means MPs from all parties would have the opportunity to decide if they want the government to continue — and could trigger a general election. But the government said it would not let the current wording through.

"We have given Labour the option to table a straightforward vote of no confidence in the Government," a spokesman said. "As the Prime Minister has already resigned and a leadership process is underway we do not feel this is a valuable use of parliamentary time. Should Labour amend their motion appropriately, they can have the next business day for it to be debated."

To succeed the measure would require Conservative MPs to vote against their own party while hunting for a new leader.

Mr Johnson "is leaving because his own party has concluded that he can’t be trusted," Sir Keir said. “They can’t now let him cling on for weeks, and weeks, and weeks until September 5. It would be intolerable for the country.

“Since the Tories have failed to act in the national interest, Labour will."

Last month, Mr Johnson won a tight confidence vote by his own MPs, after rivals had forced an internal referendum following damaging scandals, including a police fine over a Downing Street birthday party while the country was in Covid-19 lockdown.

The prime minister had argued the government could “move on” and focus on what “really matters to people”, but the lack of support from his own side, and one more scandal involving his handling of sexual harassment allegations surrounding one of his MPs, forced him to resign.

When Mr Johnson last week announced his departure as Conservative leader there were calls for him to step aside as prime minister, it was suggested his deputy Dominic Raab could become caretaker prime minister.

Instead, Mr Johnson formed a new Cabinet and insisted he would remain in No 10 until he can hand over the keys to his successor, which is now due to be September 5 after the rules of the contest were set out on Monday night.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had previously threatened to bring the confidence vote to prevent “this nonsense about clinging on for a few months”.

“He’s inflicted lies, fraud and chaos in the country,” Sir Keir said last week. “If they don’t get rid of him then Labour will step up, in the national interest, and bring a vote of no confidence because we can’t go on with this prime minister clinging on for months and months to come.”

Who could replace Boris Johnson?

There are currently 11 candidates declared to stand in the race but they must each find at least 20 backers before nominations close at 6pm today.

Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat are known to have already secured enough supporters.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said he believes he has the necessary nominations from Tory colleagues.

Tax cuts have become a common theme of pledges from most of the candidates.

Even Rishi Sunak, who as chancellor oversaw tax rises during his time in charge, outlined plans to cut taxes when inflation has been brought back under control at a launch event in London on Tuesday.

He insisted it was a matter of "when not if" the tax burden starts to fall, as he unveiled heavyweight backing from cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Grant Shapps. Mr Shapps dropped out of the race after failing to gather enough support.

Mr Tugendhat, a former soldier and the chairman of a parliamentary foreign affairs commtitee, said tax cuts cannot be the “only round in the magazine” in stimulating economic growth.

Like the other contenders — apart from Mr Sunak — Mr Tugendhat is promising immediate tax cuts but will also argue for investment in skills and infrastructure, as well tax breaks for research and development.

Labour leader Keir Starmer travels by train with members of his shadow cabinet to High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, to hold a shadow cabinet meeting. PA

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said “cutting taxes isn’t a fairytale” in a swipe at his predecessor Rishi Sunak as he set out his pitch to Tory voters.

He said in his leadership campaign video that he would reform education to give pupils “the tools they need to succeed in life”.

“Faced by Russia and China it is clear we must increase our spending on defence,” he added. "And of course we need to reduce the burden of tax. I believe cutting taxes isn’t a fairytale but rather a critical step to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”

Updated: July 12, 2022, 4:45 PM
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