Former Tory minister fails in bid to force no confidence vote in Boris Johnson

Posted On: 
22nd July 2019

A former minister has failed in a bid to force a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson before he has even been appointed Prime Minister.

Sir Alan Duncan resigned as a Foreign Office minister
Credit: 
PA Images

In an extraordinary move, Sir Alan Duncan tried to force an emergency debate on Tuesday to establish whether Theresa May's successor can command a majority in the Commons.

Sir Alan quit as a Foreign Office minister on Monday, 24 hours before Mr Johnson is expected to be confirmed as the new Tory leader.

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He had hoped to hold the "standing order 24" debate in the hours following the announcement, but his request was refused by Speaker John Bercow.

The veteran Tory, who has been a longstanding critic of Mr Johnson, said he had “very grave concerns” about him taking over at Number 10, but insisted there was “no personal animosity” between them.

“I’m a Conservative, I’m a patriot, I want him to succeed. My judgement says that it’s going to be very, very difficult,” he told the BBC.

“The timing of my resignation was to try and prompt an emergency debate in the Commons ahead of Boris becoming Prime Minister – as it’s probably going to be him – because it’s the first time in living memory that we have had a minority government change Prime Minister in mid-term.

"The fundamental principle of our democracy is the Prime Minister is the person who can command a majority in the House of Commons and that is untested and it is in doubt and I thought that in order to avoid a constitutional crisis we should test that on the Tuesday before he goes to the Palace on the Wednesday and the Speaker has denied me and the House that opportunity."

Sir Alan later told Sky News that he “would have voted for [Mr Johnson]” if the debate had been granted.

In his resignation letter this morning, Sir Alan took a thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Johnson over the case of jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the British national who is currently in prison in Iran on espionage charges.

The ex-Foreign Secretary had been accused of making her case worse when he was in post, after he wrongly said she has been teaching journalists in the country.

“I remain deeply upset that some fruitful discussions I had initiated about the possible release of Nazanin Ratcliffe were brought to such an abrupt halt,” Sir Alan wrote.

He also paid tribute to Theresa May, adding: "I am only sorry that your three years as Prime Minister have been brought to an end.

“You deserved better, but please take lasting comfort from the knowledge that your self-esteem can, and will forever, far exceed that of your critics.”

The Prime Minister responded, by saying: “You leave behind a record of which you can be very proud – a testament to your own hard work and that of the dedicated public servants who work for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at home and overseas.”