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Boris REFUSES to back May for PM as bookies make him the clear favourite to replace her

June 9, 2017 8:18 AM
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Boris Johnson is the favorite to be the next Tory leader - and has already repeatedly refused to back Theresa May after her election nightmare.

The outspoken Foreign Secretary was asked if he believes Mrs May should be Prime Minister but would only say 'it's early days' after retaining his Uxbridge seat.

He also stayed silent when a reporter suggested that the Tory leader was 'fatally wounded' - and then appeared not to hear when another journalist asked him: 'Does your party need a new leader? Is it you?'.

The knives are already out for the Tory leader after a dismal campaign, a series of policy blunders and a manifesto now branded the party's 'worst ever'.

Theresa May is said to have 'no intention' of resigning and plans to form a Government - but some MPs including Anna Soubry said she should quit as soon as possible.

Jeremy Corbyn has again repeated his demand that Mrs May leaves office immediately - John McDonnell said he expected Boris' leadership campaign to start today.

The other candidates behind Boris according to the bookies are David Davis, Amber Rudd, Ruth Davidson, Phillip Hammond , Sajid Javid and Michael Gove.

George Osborne said the result was ‘completely catastrophic for the Conservatives and Theresa May’ and said the woman who sacked him would be lucky to survive.

Nigel Evans, member for Ribble Valley, told BBC 5 Live that her decision to call a snap election meant: 'We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head'.

The bookies have made Boris Johnson favourite to be the next Tory leader - and probably prime minister - followed by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said he believes that it will be a battle between Boris and Brexit Secretary David Davis followed by a general election later this year.

The former Mayor of London's chances will have been bolstered by Mr Hammond's shaky start as Chancellor.

Amber Rudd only held her Hastings seat by 300 votes and if an election was called again this year there would be a real chance she would be toppled.

Mr Johnson looked in a hurry to be leaving the count at Brunel University, and as soon as all the speeches were over made a dash for the exit.

In his victory speech Mr Johnson said: 'It is early to comment on the events unfolding tonight in this General Election.

Mr Johnson said nothing else about wider results of the night and how his party was performing, but thanked all involved in the election in the borough.

A number of other declarations were made at the same count, including that for Hayes and Harlington which was won by John McDonnell.

Mr McDonnell said Theresa May had made a big mistake in calling the General Election.

Asked if she should resign, he said: 'Increasingly now political commentators and by the sound of it, some Tory MPs now consider her position is now untenable.

Tory favourite: Boris Johnson (pictured after retaining his seat) is the favorite to be the next party leader and PM - and it could be a straight fight between him and Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured today)

The Tories are famously ruthless when it comes to getting rid of leaders who don’t perform, and with the knives already out for Theresa May, her position has never looked weaker.

Under Tory Party rules, a leadership election is triggered if 15 per cent of Conservative MPs send a letter to the Graham Brady, chairman of the influential backbench 1922 committee, demanding she goes.

With the Tories on course to get 319 seats, this would mean 48 MPs would be able to trigger a vote of no confidence.

Mr Brady would then call a no confidence vote which will seal the leader’s fate.

If this was done and Mrs May won a simple majority then she will remain leader and another vote cannot be called for at least 12 months.

But if she loses she would have to resign and not be allowed to stand again.

This will prevent the Tories from plunging into a long and lengthy civil war like Labour had last summer when Jeremy Corbyn refused to step down despite overwhelmingly losing a vote of no confidence among his MPs.

If only one puts their name in they win automatically, if two do then they go head to head, and if three or more Tory MPs want to stand then the parliamentary party whittles them down to two contenders.

But given the political turbulence the party, and country, has been hit by, the Tories will want to make any leadership challenges as swift and bloodless as possible.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis would both be seen as top contenders for the job.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will also be seen as a possible runner after her strong performances filling in for Mrs May in the leadership debates.

Although her position will have been weakened after her majority was today slashed to a wafer thin 346 votes.

'Whenever we get the opportunity we will do, if it's a minority government we will. But we don't know the results of this election yet.

The ailing premier is now thought to be with her husband Philip and closest aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.

The PM's joint chiefs of staff became the focus of blame this morning as Mrs May was warned she would have to shake up her team if she clings to power.

The ailing premier is now thought to be with her husband Philip and closest aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill (pictured together this morning)

Ms Hill and Mr Timothy have worked with Mrs May since she was Home Secretary.

One senior backbencher told the Mail: 'Obviously some people are talking about changing personnel. I think that's very much a matter for the Prime Minister to decide for herself.

Before the polls closed last night, one Minister described the Conservative campaign as the 'worst in living memory'.

Another backbench Tory added: 'There have to be lessons learned. There's a lots of people with grey hair who Theresa could use. If the manifesto had been properly passed by them they would have put a stop to it.

Asked if Mrs May should resign, Ms Soubry told the BBC: 'That's a matter for her. It's bad. I think she in a very difficult place.

Ms Soubry added: 'Theresa did pit her mark on this campaign and she takes responsibility, she always does and I know she will, for the running of the campaign as well.

Criticising the Conservative manifesto, Ms Soubry said: 'When you talk about the changes we're going to make to school lunches, you start with the plan that says children from poorer families will now get two free meals a day, you don't start from the basis that some children will lose a free school meal.

'All the way along those of messaging were appalling. And then you had the change of heart on social care deeply flawed Theresa May.

Senior Tories were last night speculating openly about whether the Prime Minister would be able to survive.

Mrs May will stay Prime Minister until she tenders her resignation to the Queen and she cannot do so without recommending a successor.

The rules mean she has the first chance to form a government in the hung parliament if she chooses to carry on.

She could suggest to Labour that the hung parliament means the two parties should work together in a national government to deliver Brexit together.

All of the constitutional rules could be swiftly thrown out if Mrs May quits as Tory leader either of her own volition or because party chiefs make clear her position is untenable.

Mrs May's mood was 'calm' and 'sombre' when she addressed staff at Conservative Party HQ - but she 'didn't directly refer to her future', BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says.

She didn't say she would stay, and the fact she didn't mention this could mean she hasn't made up her mind yet, and 'puts the chance of resignation on the table', Laura adds.

As her own result was declared in Maidenhead, Mrs May appeared defiant insisting the country needed a 'period of stability.

Katie Perrior, Mrs May's former director of communications at 10 Downing Street, said it would be 'incredibly difficult' for her former boss to stay as Conservative leader.

She told Sky News: 'It depends whether or not the Conservative Party says 'Look, we're 10 days away from the start of the Brexit negotiations, what we need right now is a stable leader to rally around but we will look at this in a month or two and come back to it'.

Looking shattered at her Maidenhead count, she said: 'At this time more than anything else this country needs a period of stability.

The bookies opened markets on the next Conservative leader and by 3am Boris Johnson was the favourite at 2/1, Philip Hammond joint second with David Davis at 7/1 and Jeremy Hunt priced at 12/1.

If she does manage to stay on as Prime Minister, she faces being severely weakened going into Brexit talks with EU chiefs, and could be held hostage by the right wing of her party.

Critics were predicting Mrs May could fail her own test after early results went against her.

After the exit poll was announced, the odds on Boris Johnson becoming the next Prime Minister shortened.

Several of her ministers were expected to lose their seats. One of her manifesto authors, Ben Gummer lost his seat to Labour's Sandy Martin in Ipswich.

Treasury minister Jane Ellison was the first casualty – losing Battersea in South London in a disastrous night for the party in the capital.

Senior figures such as David Cameron's former No 10 spin doctor Sir Craig Oliver openly speculated about Mrs May's future.

Attempting to rally support for Mrs May, David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News that Tory MPs had a 'responsibility to continue to support her'.

'With all caveats repeated, I think Theresa May continues to be the dominant figure within the Conservative Party. She won the leadership with a massive majority with MPs.

But International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox appeared to raise doubts about her future. Asked to guarantee she will not have to resign, he said: 'It's very early in the evening and we'll have to wait and see'.

Mrs May faces a brutal post-mortem into a disastrous campaign which began with the Conservatives boasting double digit poll leads and Mrs May sky-high personal ratings.


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