Support for successor
Johnson leaves options open after Number 10
Boris Johnson has insisted he will give his ‘full and unqualified” support to his successor but declined to say if he will stay on as a backbench MP.
Mr Johnson, who hands over the keys to Number 10 next week, told reporters he is ready to “get on with life” but gave no further clues about what the future holds.
His predecessor Theresa May retreated to the back benchers but his former Eton colleague David Cameron withdrew from frontline politics.
Mr Johnson’s comments came as he delivered his final policy speech as Prime Minister at the Sizewell nuclear plant in Suffolk.
Mr Johnson was asked what kind of ex-prime minister the public should expect. He replied: “I think only time will tell is my answer on that one. But my intention and what I certainly will do is give my full and unqualified support to whoever takes over from me.
“Otherwise, ready to get on with life.”
Liz Truss is expected to defeat her rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership contest and move into Downing Street on Tuesday.
Mr Johnson is expected to travel to Balmoral to formally tender his resignation to the Queen who, because of mobility problems, will break with tradition by not conducting the hand over at Buckingham Palace. She will hand accept the new Prime Minister at her Scottish estate.
In a highly unusual move, Mr Johnson will publish legal advice today that Downing Street claims will show parliament’s investigation into the No 10 parties scandal is unfair to the outgoing Prime Minister.
He has told civil servants to publish confidential, government-commissioned legal advice on the Commons’ privileges committee inquiry that is looking at whether he misled MPs over his knowledge of lockdown-breaking parties.
The legal opinion by Lord Pannick QC – who acted against the government in two landmark Brexit cases in the Supreme Court – is understood to question the fairness of the committee’s terms of reference.
Number 10 sources told The Times that it would also criticise the committee’s failure to make an explicit distinction between whether Mr Johnson misled MPs intentionally or not when he said he was unaware of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.
During his Sizewell visit, Mr Johnson outlined the case for nuclear as part of the answer to Britain’s energy crisis. He said: “We need to pull our national finger out and get on with Sizewell C.
“That’s why we’re putting £700m into the deal, just part of the £1.7bn of government funding available for developing a large-scale nuclear project to final investment stage in this Parliament.
“In the course of the next few weeks I am absolutely confident that it will get over the line.”
The go-ahead for the plant, which is expected to generate about 7% of the UK’s electricity needs and operate for 60 years, was confirmed in July but negotiations were still ongoing with French energy giant EDF about the exact funding arrangements with the UK Government.
The new plant will be built next to the existing Sizewell B, which is still generating electricity, and Sizewell A, which has been decommissioned.
While he admitted nuclear energy was a more expensive option, Mr Johnson said it would be “madness” not to go ahead with the project which would “fix the energy needs, not just of this generation but of the next”.
He added: “I say to you, with the prophetic candour and clarity of one who is about to hand over the torch of office, I say go nuclear and go large and go with Sizewell C.”
He said that if the under-construction Hinkley Point C in Somerset was operating now “it would be cutting our national fuel bills by £3bn”.