Before Boris Johnson accepted his fate and resigned as Prime Minister on Thursday, the nation watched with incredulity as more and more Government
Before Boris Johnson accepted his fate and resigned as Prime Minister on Thursday, the nation watched with incredulity as more and more Government ministers resigned. With the Prime Minister seemingly holed up in Downing Street and refusing to resign, some recalled the final hours of Gordon Brown’s tenure and drew comparisons. On Thursday morning, when it was still unclear whether Mr Johnson would, in fact, resign, Labour Councillor Kira Lewis shared a clip on Twitter of Mr Brown leaving Downing Street in 2010 with his wife and two children, with the caption: “Remember when people left Downing St in dignified ways”.
But political commentator Mahyar Tousi shot back, replying: “Dignified? DIGNIFIED?! We had to drag Brown out of Downing Street as he was refusing to accept that Lib Dems have picked the Tories over him.”
The scenes came after Mr Brown’s Government lost its majority in the 2010 General Election.
Labour had initially hoped to be able to remain in power with a minority Government, but as the days wore on and talks with the Liberal Democrats foundered, it became increasingly clear that Mr Brown’s role was untenable.
The Lib Dems eventually managed to strike a deal with the Conservatives, paving the way for the David Cameron administration which would end in the Brexit referendum.
In 2010, Mr Johnson was still a columnist for the Telegraph – and his piece published hours before Mr Brown resigned will make for uncomfortable reading for the outgoing Prime Minister today.
Mr Johson wrote: “The whole thing is unbelievable. As I write these words, Gordon Brown is still holed up in Downing Street.
“He is like some illegal settler in the Sinai desert, lashing himself to the radiator, or like David Brent haunting The Office in that excruciating episode when he refuses to acknowledge that he has been sacked.
“Isn’t there someone – the Queen’s Private Secretary, the nice policeman on the door of No 10 – whose job it is to tell him that the game is up?”
Mr Brown stepped announced his resignation just hours after Mr Johnson’s column was published.
Mr Johnson may face further accusations of hypocrisy, as he could become the longest-serving outgoing Prime Minister ever.
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He is understood to have insisted he will stay in office until the autumn, giving himself an unprecedented months-long period in office despite having announced his intention to resign.
Alternatively, one source has suggested that Theresa May could make an extraordinary return to Downing Street as a caretaker Prime Minister.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, they said: “She knows the ropes and the security stuff, she’s a party woman through and through, she’s definitely not interested in standing for it herself and would be credible. She is uniquely placed.”
Mr Johnson’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, has claimed the outgoing leader will cause “carnage” if he remains in post until a new Prime Minister is selected.
He tweeted this morning that Dominic Raab should take over in the short term.
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Mr Cummings said: “Evict today or he’ll cause carnage, even now he’s playing for time and will try to stay.
“No ‘dignity’, no ‘interim while leadership contest’. Raab should be interim PM by evening.”
However, precedent does dicatete that outgoing Prime Ministers remain in office until a new successor is found.
Once a Conservative leader has stood down, an election for a new party leader is triggered.
Under the current rules, candidates need the support of eight Conservative MPs to stand.
Once all the candidates have declared, Tory MPs will hold a series of votes until only two remain.
When two MPs are left, all Conservative Party members around the country will vote for the winner.
The timescale for each contest is decided by the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, and the committee could vote to change the rules before the contest takes place.