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UK Politics: Top Tory ministers to resign in protest at Johnson premiership

High-profile cabinet members could be set to resign
Several cabinet members will resign if Johnson becomes PM
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Philip Hammond and David Gauke have both said they will resign if Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

"If the test of loyalty to stay in the cabinet is a commitment to support no deal on October 31st - which, to be fair to him, Boris has consistently said - then that’s not something I’m prepared to sign up to,"

- Justice secretary David Gauke

Voting in the Conservative leadership contest closes today, and it is widely expected that Boris Johnson will be confirmed as the next leader of the Tory party and the new prime minister tomorrow.

Johnson will not face an easy start to his premiership, however, with some of the highest-ranking members of the cabinet, including the chancellor Philip Hammond, saying they will resign rather than serve under him.

'Not something I could ever sign up to'

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Hammond said he would not be prepared to serve in a cabinet led by Johnson because of the former London mayor's staunch commitment to leaving the EU on October 31st, with or without a withdrawal agreement.

The chancellor said a no-deal Brexit is "not something I could ever sign up to".

"It's very important that a prime minister is able to have a chancellor who is closely aligned with him in terms of policy, and I therefore intend to resign to Theresa May before she goes to the palace to tender her own resignation on Wednesday," he added.

Hammond's comments were echoed by David Gauke, the justice secretary, in an interview with the Sunday Times, in which he said resigning would be "the appropriate thing" to do, should Johnson win the Conservative leadership race.

"If the test of loyalty to stay in the cabinet is a commitment to support no deal on October 31st - which, to be fair to him, Boris has consistently said - then that's not something I'm prepared to sign up to," he said.

Elsewhere, Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan chose to resign before the result of the Conservative leadership contest was announced.

In his resignation letter to outgoing prime minister May, Sir Alan said: "It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit."

What about Jeremy Hunt?

With voting in the Conservative leadership contest not due to close until later on Monday, there remains a small chance that Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary, could win the race and become the next prime minister.

Hunt has taken a slightly more moderate stance to leaving the EU than that adopted by Johnson. While he has expressed an openness to the idea of a no-deal withdrawal on October 31st, he has also said he would be willing to push that date back if an acceptable deal with Brussels is achievable.

The foreign secretary has also ruled out the idea of suspending parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit, something Johnson has refused to do.

Hammond acknowledged that Hunt's position is "more nuanced" and that he has not demanded a "loyalty pledge" on the October 31st exit date from prospective cabinet members.

However, the current chancellor also pointed out that "all the polling" suggests Johnson will become the next prime minister, and he is making his plans to resign accordingly.

Whoever moves into 10 Downing Street this week, one of their biggest challenges will be to reassure businesses and protect the British economy while navigating the country's exit from the European Union.

A report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research on Monday morning warned that the outlook beyond October is "very murky indeed", with the possibility of the economy entering "a severe downturn in the event of a disorderly no-deal Brexit".

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