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Johnson or Hunt? Tory leadership election closes, with new PM set to take office

REUTERS/Rebecca Naden/File Photo

A new prime minister will enter Number 10 tomorrow as the contest to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative party draws to a close.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been battling for the top job after beating rival MPs to make the final two last month, with the result of the leadership ballot to be announced this morning.

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, paid tribute to Mrs May in a recent meeting of the Gibraltar Parliament. In doing so he highlighted her “unwavering and solid” support for the Rock during her three-year tenure as prime minister.

Additionally, he described as “highly significant” the fact that he had met with the two candidates contesting the leadership election during a brief visit to London last week.

In a briefing to MPs, Mr Picardo said: “Mr Speaker the Government considers it is highly significant that within 24 hours we have been able to meet with the current but outgoing UK Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and with the two candidates contesting an election to succeed her.”

“Mr Speaker we consider that this reflects the success of the ongoing policy of the Government to put across the Gibraltar point of view to decision-makers in the UK as quickly and as directly as possible.”

Mrs May will take her final Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons before formally resigning as prime minister on Wednesday.

She is expected to return to Downing Street after her last stint at the despatch box to have lunch and address Number 10 staff.

Mrs May will then make a short statement to media waiting in the street outside the famous black door before heading to Buckingham Palace to offer her resignation to the Queen.

The monarch will then meet the new leader of the Tory Party - either Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt - at the Palace and invite him to form a new government.

Traditionally, the new prime minister makes a statement in Downing Street before stepping into Number 10 for the first time as prime minister.

On Thursday the new prime minister is likely to spend his first full day in office finalising his Government - with appointments to the Cabinet and ministerial team expected.

The Commons will rise for the summer recess, with MPs not due to return until September 3.

The Cabinet reshuffle could continue into Friday, with the new prime minister finalising his team ahead of the summer.

He may also make his first official visit as PM to one of the four regions of the UK - like Mrs May's trip to Scotland on her second day in office - or perhaps head to Brussels to in a bid to reopen Brexit negotiations.

Mr Johnson is widely expected to defeat Mr Hunt to become the new Tory leader.

But, on the eve of the leadership announcement a prominent critic of Mr Johnson, Sir Alan Duncan, quit the Government, hitting out at the "haphazard and ramshackle" would-be prime minister.

Sir Alan resigned from the Foreign Office and immediately tabled a motion for an early Commons test of Mr Johnson's authority which could have prevented him entering Number 10.

But he said Commons Speaker John Bercow had turned down his application for a debate after the leadership result is announced but before the new prime minister is appointed by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

If it had been allowed to go ahead, MPs would have been given the chance to consider "the merits of the newly chosen leader of the Conservative Party" and - crucially - whether the Commons "supports his wish to form a government".

Whoever wins the Tory leadership race will have to govern with a Tory-DUP majority of just two, as Charlie Elphicke had the Conservative whip suspended after being charged with sexually assaulting two women.

That majority could be further reduced to just one next week if the Tories fail to win the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

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