Boris Johnson to make personal statement on his resignation from government
PUBLISHED: 11:33 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 18 July 2018
Boris Johnson is to make a personal statement to the House of Commons on his resignation as foreign secretary following the weekly session of prime minister's questions, it has been confirmed.
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Sources close to Mr Johnson said he had received permission from speaker John Bercow to make the brief statement, amid intense speculation that he may use it to attack Theresa May's approach to Brexit.
But a Tory source told The New European: "Don't expect fireworks."
The statement will still add to the challenges of a gruelling day for the prime minister, who is already facing a potentially difficult session of PMQs, followed by a grilling by senior MPs on Westminster's Liaison Committee.
Mrs May will also try to rally her deeply divided Parliamentary party as she addresses a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers in the evening.
It was not clear whether she will remain in the Commons to hear Mr Johnson's statement.
Resignation statements have previously been used by former ministers to inflict a departing blow on prime ministers with whom they have clashed.
Sir Geoffrey Howe's 1990 speech after resigning as deputy prime minister over differences with Margaret Thatcher on Europe was widely regarded as setting in train the process which led to her departure nine days later.
Mr Johnson quit Mrs May's Cabinet on Monday last week, declaring that the plans for the UK's post-Brexit relations with Europe which she set out at Chequers would leave Britain a "colony".
His personal statement to the Commons will take place after three urgent questions and a ministerial statement on space, according to the Commons annunciator system in Parliament.
It is estimated this could be at approximately 3pm although is subject to how long other business is allowed to run for.
Pressure on the prime minister continued to mount as a poll gave Labour a five-point lead over the Conservatives.
On a night of high drama in Westminster on Tuesday, the prime minister thwarted a rebel Tory move which could have forced her to try to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU by 307 votes to 301, helped by Labour Brexiteers.
But 12 Conservatives broke ranks to back the customs union measure, even though Tory whips told would-be rebels that there would be a confidence vote if it passed, potentially resulting in the collapse of Mrs May's administration.
Mrs May was defeated on a separate amendment to her flagship Trade Bill, which will require her to seek continued UK participation in the EU's system for regulation of medicines after Brexit.
Leading Tory Remainer Anna Soubry called for a government of national unity to deal with Brexit made up of Plaid Cymru, the SNP and "other sensible, pragmatic" MPs.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We simply cannot go on like this."
Ms Soubry said the whipping operation during Brexit votes on Tuesday evening had been an "appalling spectacle".
"These nonsenses of threatening general elections and votes of confidence in the prime minister and as I actually said to the deputy chief whip 'bring it on' because I shall be the first in the queue to give my vote of full confidence in the Prime Minister," she said.
"Problem is, I don't think that she's in charge anymore. I've no doubt Jacob Rees-Mogg is running our country."
Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards did not dismiss Ms Soubry's overture, saying: “Plaid Cymru has worked, and will continue to work with sensible politicians from across all parties to defeat this hard-Brexit.
"We have consistently voted to protect people’s jobs, wages and standard of living by maintaining our place in the Single Market and the Customs Union, but if making it happen requires entering into an all-party government, so be it.
“We are not prepared to allow Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s internal party interests to come before the Welsh national interest. The future of our country, our economy and standards of living for our citizens is far too important.”
Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said the Government would be setting out more details of its preparations for a no-deal scenario in the coming weeks.
He told Today: "But our energies are going into negotiating a positive way forward with out European counterparts.
"That is what we expect to happen."
An indication of how precarious Mrs May's position is came in a YouGov poll for the Times, which put the Conservatives on 36%, down one point from last week, behind Labour on 41%, up two points.
The YouGov poll of 1,657 British adults was conducted on July 16 and 17.