Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are preparing a “dream team” bid to take control of the leadership of the Conservative Party in the wake of the most dramatic week in modern British political history.
David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister yesterday morning after Britain voted to leave the European Union sparking a major political, economic and constitutional crisis.
Within hours of the surprise vote, Mr Cameron had resigned, the Bank of England intervened in the financial markets to prevent a crash and the Scottish government threatened to hold another referendum on splitting from the rest of the United Kingdom.
In a statesmanlike address from the Vote Leave headquarters, Mr Johnson positioned himself as a Prime Minister in waiting by urging unity in the nation and speaking of the bright future that now awaits an outward-looking Britain.
“I want to speak to the millions of people who did not vote for this outcome especially young people who may feel that this decision in some way involves pulling up the drawbridge or any kind of isolationism. I think the very opposite is true.
“To those who may be anxious at home or abroad this does not mean that that he UK will be in anyway less united nor indeed does it mean that it will be any less European.”
He added: “We cannot turn our backs on Europe. We are part of Europe. Our children and grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans travelling to the continent, understanding the languages and cultures that make up of common European civilisation.”
It is now expected that Mr Johnson will stand as leader, with Mr Gove, the Justice Secretary, becoming the Chancellor in a “Brexit Government”, sources claimed.
George Osborne, the current Chancellor, could work alongside the pair after it emerged that he made overtures towards Mr Johnson, sending an olive branch text message in the early hours of Friday following the shock victory by the Leave campaign.
It came on a day described as the most dramatic in the modern history of British politics. In the space of just six hours the country voted to leave the European Union, Mr Cameron resigned and Jeremy Corbyn was left facing a leadership challenge.
As the financial markets crashed to a 31-year low, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a second independence referendum was now “highly likely” and there were calls for a united Ireland after both nations voted to Remain against the prevailing national mood.
After a night of tension which say the Brexit campaign score major victories across middle England and the north, it became clear shortly after dawn that Mr Cameron was going to resign.
At 8.15am he gave a speech in Downing Street flanked by his wife Samantha, who appeared tearful as her husband said it was “in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required”.
Sources close to Mr Johnson say he was left “extremely upset” by Mr Cameron’s resignation and “felt personally responsible” as he watched an emotional Mr Cameron tell the nation that he is no longer the right person to be “the captain that steers our country to its next destination”.
While Mr Cameron called Mr Gove before making his resignation speech outside Number 10, he pointedly declined to make contact with Mr Johnson, only replying to a text message sent later in the morning by the former London mayor.