Boris Johnson chairs last Cabinet meeting as UK PM

04:13 PM Jul 19, 2022 | PTI |

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired his final Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, ahead of Conservative Party parliamentarians casting their votes for the fourth round in the secret ballot to elect a new leader.


Johnson, 58, defended his government’s record and commitment to tackling climate change as he addressed the ongoing heat wave.

”Who can doubt that we were right to be the first major economy to go for net zero,” he told his ministers at Downing Street.

”It may be sometimes unfashionable to say this but it is the right thing to do,” he said.

It came after the Opposition Labour Party had accused him of clocking off his job as prime minister ahead of time by missing three emergency Cabinet Office Briefing Room A (COBRA) meetings on the measures to tackle the heat wave national emergency.


It also followed a symbolic win for Johnson, forced to resign amid scandals rocking his leadership earlier this month, as his government won a no-confidence vote tabled to block Labour’s efforts to overthrow the government and induce a snap election. MPs voted in the House of Commons on Monday evening by 349 to 238 in favour of the motion showing confidence in the Conservative-led government.

Speaking at the start of the debate, a defiant Johnson insisted he had got ”the big calls right” during his nearly three years in office while urging the Tories to unite around his successor.

“This government has fought some of the hardest yards in modern political history. We’ve had to take some of the bleakest decisions since the war, and I believe that we got the big calls right,” Johnson told the Commons.

“After three dynamic years in the cockpit, we will find a new leader and we will coalesce in loyalty around him or her…and the twin values of our Conservative message will roll on,” he said.

While the race to replace the caretaker PM still has some time to go before the September 5 announcement of a new elected leader, the UK Parliament is set for its annual summer recess from Thursday and will return for session with a new prime minister in place.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has maintained a steady lead as the frontrunner and is now also leading the bookie’s odds as best placed to succeed Johnson at 10 Downing Street.

Further rounds of voting among Tory MPs this week will determine who he will be up against in the final round, with Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss fighting for that second place. Last placed, Kemi Badenoch has emerged as a kingmaker of sorts, whose supporters are expected to determine the final votes in favour of either Truss or Mordaunt.

With Tory MPs not obliged to openly declare their support for any of the candidates in the race, the ballot remains hard to predict in the final few rounds as lobbying and bartering of members’ votes takes place behind closed doors.

The remaining two candidates in the leadership contest will become clear by Wednesday or latest Thursday after a total of five rounds of voting eliminate two more of the remaining four candidates with the least votes from Tory MPs. The fight will then open up to woo the estimated 160,000 Conservative Party members across the UK for the next six weeks.


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