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Boris Johnson resignation – July 2022

As Boris Johnson announces his resignation, the IfG team follows the latest ministerial resignations and appointments.

Boris Johnson

Seven more ministers... and one more resignation

8 July 2022 17:15

After a truly unprecedented week in politics, Friday has been relatively calm  - but we have still seen seven new junior ministers appointed (including promotions for whips Alan Mak and Sarah Dines, now at the Treasury and a joint Home Office-Justice role respectively).

That means Boris Johnson's government (presumably the final configuration of his premiership) looks like this:

UK government ministers, 8 July 2022

Of course, it wouldn't be this week without one more resignation - Lord Greenhalgh, who previously worked with the prime minister when he was mayor of London, has also resigned, bringing the total number of ministerial resignations from Boris Johnson's government to 47 (29 of which since around 6pm Tuesday).

Number of ministerial resignations outside reshuffles by prime minister (1979 to 8 July 2022)

We are closing this live blog now - but our analysis will continue next week, as the Conservative party plunges headfirst into its third leadership contest in six years. 

Ministerial appointments overnight

8 July 2022, 11:12

Yesterday evening Boris Johnson appointed several new junior ministers, filling some of the gaps opened up by the wave of resignations during the week. The new appointees are not all like-for-like replacements - Johnny Mercer, for example, who told the Institute that his previous time in government was "awful", is now attending cabinet as a minister at the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet resignations and appointments, 8 July 2022

Johnson also promoted ministers at departments that didn't see any resignations (transport and defence). Will Quince, who resigned earlier in the week, is back at the Department for Education, as one of three ministers, compared to five at the start of the week. Former lord chancellor and justice secretary Robert Buckland is back in government as secretary of state for Wales, and Matt Warman, a former DCMS minister, is back at his old department.

That means the government now looks like this: 

UK government ministers, 8 July 2022

New cabinet means high ministerial turnover continues

7 July 2022, 17:15

Obviously, the last few days of resignations means that we've seen a lot of turnover in key posts. Now that the PM seems to have filled all the roles he is going to in cabinet, we can see just how much change there has been in senior roles in government in recent years.

The chancellor used to be a fairly stable job, with Gordon Brown and George Osborne serving long stints in the governments of Tony Blair and David Cameron respectively. But since the referendum, turnover has increased, with Zahawi the fourth chancellor in six years.

Timeline of chancellors by party, 1997-2022

Steve Barclay is the new health secretary, the third in just over a year, following Javid's resignation on Tuesday and Matt Hancock's resignation last summer. 

Timeline of secretaries of state for health, 1997-2022

Michelle Donelan took over as education secretary on Wednesday, following Zahawi's appointment as chancellor. However, she then resigned this morning, vacating the position for James Cleverly to take on his first secretary of state position. 

Timeline of secretaries of state for education, 1997 to 2022, by party

The one sacking yesterday - Michael Gove - opened up a vacancy at the Department for Communities, Housing and Local Government. Greg Clark, formerly the chair of the Commons' Science and Technology Committee, has returned to his former role (he was secretary of state at DLUHC's predecessor department, the Department for Communities and Local Government). This is another post that has seen quite a lot of turnover in recent years. 

Timeline of secretaries of state for housing and communities by party, 1997 to 2022

What will Boris Johnson do with his remaining time in No10? 

7 July 2022, 16:15

Boris Johnson is now a caretake prime minister, until his successor is elected. Our director, Bronwen Maddox, has written about what he will and will not be able to do in the coming months.

“Johnson also needs to accept that he cannot do much in these months – and nothing that is contentious. Very likely, Ukraine will be prominent. His vigorous support for President Zelensky has had the warm support of public opinion.

But much of the vast and sprawling programme in the recent Queen’s Speech will now need to pause until a new leader is picked, particularly the controversial elements such as Channel 4 privatisation and probably human rights reform.

Highly controversial legislation relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the sweeping powers it gives ministers, probably now enters paralysis as well. The European Union will not bother to give one more breath of negotiating time to Johnson.“

You can read the whole blog here.

Many ministerial jobs remain unfilled

7 July 2022, 13:24

With the addition of Andrew Stephenson as a minister without portfolio, Johnson appears to have completed appointments to the cabinet. (Stephenson will attend cabinet rather than being a full member.) That may be it in terms of appointments today – we may not see the gaps amongst the junior ministerial ranks filled until a later stage. Most departments now have vacancies.

UK government ministers, 12:35, 7 July 2022

Boris Johnson announces his resignation

7 July 2022, 12:31

Boris Johnson says the timetable for electing his successor will be announced next week, and that he will serve as PM until the next leader is announced.

A few weeks ago, Boris Johnson said he was ‘actively thinking’ about a third term as Prime Minister – if you interpret that (as many did) as a full third term, that would have taken him into the 2030s. Instead, he is currently 27 days short of equalling his predecessor, Theresa May, and of post-war Prime Ministers has outlasted only Alec Douglas-Home, Anthony Eden and (by a month) Gordon Brown.

To equal his political hero, Winston Churchill, he would have needed to stay in post until March 2028. Yesterday, he drew level with a pre-war Tory PM: Neville Chamberlain, whom Churchill displaced.

Tenure of UK prime ministers since 1945 and when Boris Johnson would equal them

Northern Ireland secretary appointed

7 July 2022, 12:24

Shailesh Vara has been appointed secretary of state for Northern Ireland - he'll be trying to get the devolved government up and running again, and dealing with the government's plan to change the Northern Ireland protocol. And Andrew Stephenson is now minister without portfolio, attending cabinet - we aren't sure if he is taking over the party co-chair role that Oliver Dowden resigned from following the Conservatives' loss in two by-elections in June.

Cabinet resignations and appointments, 12:20, 7 July 2022

Theresa May talks about how to restore trust in politics

7 July 2022, 12:18

As luck would have it, Theresa May is giving a lecture at the Institute about how to restore trust in politics and democracy. She is speaking right now about the importance of playing by the rules and the need to uphold the rule of law, criticising the government's attempt to change the rules on parliamentary standards in November. You can watch her lecture here

Further ministers appointed

7 July 2022, 12:13

No10 have announced two more cabinet appointments: Kit Malthouse to the Cabinet Office, taking over from Steve Barclay who has moved to health (and was also the PM's chief of staff). And Robert Buckland, formerly justice secretary, is now secretary of state for Wales.

Cabinet resignations and appointments, 12:10, 7 July 2022

What happens when a PM resigns?

7 July 2022, 12:15

We’re expecting the prime minister to announce his resignation later today, but it’s not yet clear what the timeline will be for the Conservative party leadership contest. Our explainer here has all the details of how these work and what happened last time, with the key point:

There must be a prime minister. If the resigning leader is prime minister, he or she would normally be expected to stay in post until a new leader was elected, as Theresa May did in 2019 and David Cameron did in 2016. 

If they do not wish to do that, they could resign and recommend that the Queen appoint somebody else as prime minister until the Conservative Party had chosen a new leader. 

As Cath explained on Twitter here, the UK constitutional system does not have a formal acting or interim prime minister role.

The convention is that an outgoing PM remains in place until a replacement is chosen—though the outgoing PM, in that scenario, would be expected to focus on keeping the wheels of government turning, rather than making major new policy announcements.  
But if a PM were to step down immediately, it would be up to the Cabinet to recommend to the Queen who should be appointed as PM as an interim successor (in the same way as if the PM were temporarily incapacitated, for example because of an illness).

There aren’t formal rules for that, or an established line of succession—like there is in the US—but the Cabinet would be expected to come up with a clear recommendation in order to keep the Queen from having to get involved in the politics.  

What this means for the current situation is that it is ultimately up to Conservative MPs: do they think that Johnson can continue as PM until a successor as leader is elected? Or would they prefer somebody else take over on an interim basis? 

New ministerial appointments

7 July 2022, 11:58

As Boris Johnson prepares to announce the end of his premiership, he is still finding time to fill the ministerial posts left vacant by the wave of resignations over the last two days. Greg Clark is back in government, and back in his old role, as levelling up secretary; and James Cleverly has been promoted to secretary of state for education. How much time will they actually have in these roles?

Cabinet resignations and appointments, 11:50, 7 July 2022

Ministerial resignations - where are we now? 

7 July 2022, 11:30

After an incredible 28 ministerial resignations since Tuesday evening (and a similar number of parliamentary private secretaries and other minor government posts), Boris Johnson is reportedly announcing his resignation as prime minister later today. Here we will bring together all our analysis of the last few days, look ahead to what might happen in the remainder of Johnson’s premiership, and work out what happens next.

Number of ministerial resignations outside reshuffles by prime minister (1979 to 10:45, July 2022)
Political party
Prime minister
Johnson government
Public figures
Boris Johnson
Institute for Government

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