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By Ben Guerin
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Former Cabinet Minister Breathed An “Enormous” Sigh Of Relief When Boris Johnson Backed Out Of Leadership Bid

Boris Johnson arriving in the UK following a holiday in the Caribbean. (Alamy)

3 min read

Stephen Crabb has spoken of his substantial relief at Boris Johnson's decision not to challenge Rishi Sunak for the Conservative leadership in this week's episode The Rundown podcast, looking at the UK’s third Prime Minister in a year.

Sunak, the former chancellor, was appointed Prime Minister on Tuesday after Liz Truss's resignation prompted an unusually brief Conservative leadership contest. Truss lasted just 45 days in office after her disastrous "mini-Budget" of sweeping tax cuts crashed the pound and increased the price of government borrowing. 

Crabb told PoliticsHome he believes “the right outcome has been achieved” with Sunak's appointment and was relieved when Boris Johnson ruled himself out of the leadership race. 

The former Prime Minister phoned Crabb on Sunday morning during a frantic ring-around of MPs to seek support for a leadership bid. But the former work and pensions secretary declined to offer Johnson his backing, and told him that “the Conservative Party is not going to wear it” if he returned to No.10 after months of scandal.

Crabb said he let out an “enormous” sigh of relief when he heard Johnson wasn't going to be standing in the race to replace Truss. 

The MP said Johnson, who resigned in July, was still popular with his Pembrokeshire constituents, but felt "it wasn't going to happen for him" given how recent his initial demise was. 

"Hopefully if all of my Conservative colleagues in Parliament were here they would agree that the right outcome has been achieved,” Crabb said.

He added that "a weight has been lifted off our shoulders this week," following Sunak's appointment. 

“It's been a really frenetic and intense few weeks, few months," he continued. 

"We were kind of in the grip of fear and anxiety at the end of last week that, ‘oh my God here we go again, another trip around the mountain of Conservative Party psychodrama’, and it just feels that we got through that and actually got a pretty sensible outcome.”

But while he feels MPs are now in a "fairly good place", the havoc wreaked by Truss has left Sunak and the Tories with "a political mountain to climb” as he seeks to unify his party at its most fractious.

Sunak used his first day in No.10 to undertake a major cabinet reshuffle, in which he aimed to appoint MPs from various factions of the party, as well as drawing on allies. 

Crabb welcomed the appointments which he saw as “a very good selection of personnel”. 

But he admitted he was concerned about reports of security concerns around Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who resigned from the same role only six days earlier as a result of a security breach, and urged Sunak to address the issue urgently

  • Listen to the full interview with Stephen Crabb in The Rundown, out now. 


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