James Cleverly grilled on Boris Johnson’s resignation
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James Cleverly has admitted that Boris Johnson “has not really resigned yet” despite giving a ‘resignation speech’ yesterday afternoon. Observers noticed that Mr Johnson did not explicitly mention the word resign in his speech, prompting speculation that he would somehow try to cling to power. Kay Burley pushed Mr Cleverly on this point, asking: “So he is still Prime Minister? What has he resigned from then?”
Mr Cleverly became the third Education Secretary in three days amid chaotic scenes at No10 this week.
During his appearance on Sky News this morning, Mr Burley asked the MP about media speculation that Mr Johnson has planned a July wedding party with his wife, Carrie, at his prime ministerial retreat Chequers.
The plans raised eyebrows now that Mr Johnson has said he will resign as Conservative leader and leave Downing Street when a new candidate is elected.
Ms Burley said: “Chequers is the grace-and-favour home of the Prime Minister – not the caretaker Prime Minister.”
Mr Cleverly responded: “There is no such thing as a caretaker Prime Minister in our system.”
Ms Burley jumped on this remark: “So he is still Prime Minister? What has he resigned from then?”
The Conservative MP admitted that Boris has not yet resigned but was in the process of “resigning” from his role “once a successor has been chosen”.
Ms Burley continued to press the MP: “So he has not yet resigned? Because I didn’t hear him say resign in his speech.”
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Mr Cleverly said “of course” Mr Johnson was still Prime Minister, but offered a bet to see if he was “still in charge in a few month’s time”.
In his resignation speech outside No10, Mr Johnson pledged to serve until a new leader is in place.
However, several senior figures in the Conservative Party including John Major, George Freeman, and Andrea Leadsom all called on Mr Johnson to step down immediately and for Dominic Raab to take his place as a caretaker.
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During his speech, Mr Johnson said called the decision to oust him “eccentric”, suggesting it had been driven by a herd mentality.
He said: “In the last few days I have tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we are delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate and when we are actually only a handful of points behind in the polls.
“As we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful, and when the herd moves, it moves.”
It is thought that Mr Johnson will remain in power until the autumn when a new leader is selected.
Speaking to his newly appointed cabinet on Thursday, Mr Johnson promised he would not use his remaining time in No10 to make “major changes of direction”.
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