Boris Johnson has told cabinet members that his government will not seek new policies or major changes in direction after he steps down as leader of the Conservative Party.
Addressing his reshuffled senior ministerial team for the first time after resigning earlier ThursdayMr Johnson said his priority was to “continue to deliver on our manifesto promises and make sure the government is on the side of the public on the cost of energy, transport and housing and everything else that matters to them”.
He also said the government “will be focused on delivering on the agenda on which the government was elected” and that “major financial decisions should be left to the next prime minister”.
Mr Johnson was speaking for the first time with his new-look cabinet, replacing an avalanche of ministers who resigned in protest at his leadership in the past two days.
Addressing the nation just after midday, Mr Johnson offered his resignation but said he intends to remain in his post until a successor is chosen, a process that could take months.
This provoked a backlash from senior Conservatives, including former party leader Sir John Major, who in a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, said that it was “unwise and potentially unsustainable” for Mr Johnson to stay put until autumn.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer too threatened to express a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, with the support of other opposition parties, if the Tory MPs cannot immediately reject it.
In his speech, Mr Johnson said he had been fighting to stay on as prime minister for the past few days because he felt he had a “duty” to the “millions of people who voted” for the Conservative Party in in 2019.
“I tried to convince my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we are doing so much and when we have such a broad mandate and when we are actually only a few points behind in the polls,” he said.
But he added: “I regret not being successful in these arguments.”
Details of the executive selection to replace Johnson will be announced next week.
But some of those considering applications for the position have begun setting up their stalls.
Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps is believed to be considering a bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
But Sky News understands that both Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and former Promotions Secretary Michael Gove have ruled themselves out of the running.
Former health minister Mr Javid, who abruptly resigned on Tuesday evening, is also deciding whether to enter the competition, reports the PA agency.
It is understood Matt Hancock, who was replaced by Mr Javid after flouting the COVID rules, is not interested in a bid for the leadership.
Elsewhere, speaking before Mr. Johnson announced his resignationBen Wallace declined to comment on whether he would run to replace him.
The defense secretary, the front-runner to replace Mr Johnson, was asked if he would seek the top job during a visit to a military training ground in northern England.
“Let’s see what the Prime Minister will say,” he said.
Sky News political correspondent Joe Pike understands Mr Wallace is discussing the matter with his family before deciding what to do next.
Another senior Tory MP deciding whether to throw their hat in the ring is Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the influential Commons Committee.
During the last 48 hours, the prime minister has been under intense pressure to resign more than 50 resignations from the state payroll, and waves on the back bench are calling for him to leave.
The mass uprising began on Tuesday after Downing Street’s admission Prime Minister aware of misconduct allegations against disgraced former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher in 2019, but still appointed him in February and sent ministers to defend him.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were the first to resign on Tuesday night, but over the next few days MPs at all levels of government piled up their letters demanding he go.
Mr Johnson initially insisted he was staying in his post and a No 10 source said on Thursday morning he planned to “keep fighting”.
But after new education secretary Michelle Donnellan, who had been in the job for just 36 hours, resigned and newly appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahavi publicly called for his resignation, Downing Street confirmed the prime minister would step down .