Boris Johnson has resigned: What next?

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The prime minister is expected to step down on Thursday  (PA Wire)
The prime minister is expected to step down on Thursday (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson is expected to announce his resignation later on Thursday after over 50 Tory MPs walked out from the government over his conduct.

The next step is for the prime minister to give a resignation statement, which he is expected to do from a lecture on Downing Street – as is tradition.

That will avoid the need for another no-confidence vote in his leadership, which was expected to take place next week once Tory MPs on the 1922 committee had changed the rules to allow it.

But it will trigger a leadership race in the Conservative party that is likely to consume politics for the next few weeks or months.

Different candidates will lay out their stalls for leader over the coming days, making their pitch to the parliamentary party and Tory membership.

There is no obvious and clear successor to Mr Johnson, though there are a number of candidates in the running.

Names mentioned include Rishi Sunak, who was previously seen in Westminster as the obvious successor but whose stock has fallen in recent months.

Others include Penny Mordaunt, a favourite among Tory members, Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and Ben Wallace the defence secretary.

Yet more runners and riders also include Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi, and Tom Tugendhat – it really is a wide-open field.

The timescale of the leadership contest will be decided by the Conservative party's 1922 committee and is not clear yet. Crucially, Mr Johnson has indicated that he wants to stay as caretaker prime minister during the process.

All the MPs who want to take part will face a vote of Tory MPs, with the least popular candidate eliminated.

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Successive rounds of votes will then take place among Tory MPs – and crucially, the transfer of their supporters to other candidates – will whittle down the field to a final two candidates.

Those final two candidates will then be put to the Tory membership, which will make the final decision.

Conventionally, Boris Johnson would stay in office as caretaker until this process is completed. Then he would go to the palace and resign in a short audience with the Queen, and another MP would also go to the palace and ask to form a government. After that the victor would head straight to Downing Street, and likely address the public from the doorstep.

No 10 has indicated that Mr Johnson expects to stay as a caretaker prime minister until the autumn, though there may be some resistance to him remaining if office due to the manner of his departure.

If that comes to a head within the Tory party then we may see a no-confidence vote after all – either in parliament or within the Tory party. This will become clear in the coming days.

At no point in this process will there be an election or public vote to choose the new prime minister – though they might choose to call an early election to get their own mandate.

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