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Friday briefing: Boris Johnson resignation latest; former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shot | Boris Johnson

Breaking | The former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has been shot during a speech and is reported to be in a “state of cardiopulmonary arrest”.

Abe – the country’s longest serving prime minister until he resigned in 2020 – fell to the ground after being shot from behind with what appeared to be a homemade gun. Public broadcaster NHK quoted firefighters as saying he showed no vital signs. A suspect was taken into custody.

Abe is one of Japan’s most significant political figures of the 21st century. For the latest on the attack, head to the liveblog. Today’s newsletter about the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s resignation is below.


For Boris Johnson’s critics, it was a pretty satisfying evening.

One of his predecessors was filmed doing the Maybot to Craig David’s ‘Nothing Like This’ (lyrics include: “I’m letting go now”). Simon McDonald, the retired civil servant whose tweet set off the chain of events that culminated in his resignation, allowed himself a more peaceful amble along the banks of the Thames. He posted a picture of the sun setting over parliament with the not-that-cryptic caption: “It was a good day”.

But if anyone went to bed imagining the Johnson era to be altogether over, they may be getting ahead of themselves. As candidates to succeed him as prime minister jostle for position and Buckinghamshire party planners nervously check their deposit policies, Boris Johnson is still prime minister – and the Conservative party is divided over how long he should be allowed to stay there.

After the headlines, today’s bumper newsletter takes you through his unrepentant farewell, the timetable for what comes next, Michael Gove’s preferred post-sacking snack, and lots more besides. Come on, one more heave for the week. Tomorrow we can all have a lie-in.

Five big stories

  1. Ukraine | The impact of western weapons is finally being felt in the war with Russia, according to Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He said Ukrainian forces were advancing in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions as a result of the supplies.

  2. Housing | House prices in the UK rose at 13% last month, the fastest annual rate in 18 years, as demand continued to outstrip the number of properties on the market.

  3. UK weather | Britain is expected to be hit by a heatwave over the weekend, with temperatures likely to reach the mid-30Cs by the middle of next week. A level 2 heat health alert has been issued for southern and eastern areas.

  4. Criminal justice | The mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse, has been released from prison. Tracey Connelly, jailed over the death of her 17-month-old son Peter in 2009, was deemed suitable for release by a parole board in March.

  5. Cinema | James Caan, the American actor renowned for his role as Sonny Corleone in the mafia epic The Godfather, as well as a string of key films in the 1970s, has died aged 82.

In depth: ‘If MPs leave him in situ there’ll be CARNAGE’

Sam Rosbottom, from Betfair, updates current odds on the Tory leadership race on College Green, Westminster.
Sam Rosbottom, from Betfair, updates current odds on the Tory leadership race on College Green, Westminster. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Now that he’s quit, some of the comparisons to Donald Trump that were doing the rounds as Johnson hunkered down on Wednesday seem a little excessive. There was no attempt at electoral fraud, no tacit call to arms, and the party pushed back in the end; he’s Trump-ish, certainly, but not Trumpian.

There’s more than enough to be worried about with Johnson just being himself, though. And even if a lot of Tories are now ready to put his rejection of reality behind them in the interests of party unity – and having a nice time at the Spectator summer party last night – others would like him out of No 10 much sooner than convention dictates. Here’s what you need to know about yesterday’s remarkable events, and the questions about the future that still look extremely open this morning.

The messages in Johnson’s farewell

Johnson started writing his exit speech at 630am, the Daily Mail reports – but I’ve been to middle-management leaving dos that have felt like weightier occasions. (Admittedly, no one was playing the Benny Hill theme tune in the background.) Even in the areas Johnson views as his legacy – Brexit, levelling up, Ukraine – he seemed, as Andrew Sparrow wrote, to be “rattling through his standard talking points, rather than reflecting deeply on what he did and why.”

He didn’t apologise for the drama of the last few days, or defend it, or even really acknowledge that anything happened at all, other than taking an elliptical swipe at leaky colleagues by praising the police’s discretion and accusing the Conservative party – which he called, with telling distance, ‘that’ party – of acting like a herd. (Heather Stewart has more on the implications of his words.)

Any emotional response to the news was well-buried, though the Telegraph reports this morning that he told his newly-emollient cabinet to “plough on before I take out my onion”. All in all, Johnson’s performance exhibited roughly the same degree of insight as Will Smith’s Oscar acceptance speech.

That did not go down well with backbenchers, Aubrey Allegretti reports. “Ridiculous. No self-reflection at all,” said one; “An absence of any affection for, or loyalty to, the Conservative party,” said another. Meanwhile, Dominic Cummings tweeted that his aggrieved citation of his electoral successes “sets up [a] betrayal story for future Tory conferences”.

The one concrete fact to emerge was Johnson’s confirmation that he intended to stay on as PM until a successor as party leader is chosen. But he didn’t specify how long that would be. (His PPS James Duddridge said last night that Johnson plans to continue as an MP.)

How his cabinet fell apart and came back together

It would be a pity, in the gravity of the moment, to lose sight of the genuinely hilarious cabinet hokey-cokey. 36 hours after taking the job and 24 hours after declaring himself the “evidence-based chancellor”, Nadhim Zahawi took another look at the evidence and realised that actually he’d better give the boss a public kicking. There are easyJet flights that last longer than Michelle Donelan did as education secretary, and come with considerably less compensation than her £17,000 severance pay (which, to be fair, she said she’d donate to charity).

Some scrambled to release their letters even after Johnson had let it be known he was off, perhaps hoping to show that it was they, the undersecretary for paperclips, that sealed the deal; others quit, then offered their services again. Brandon Lewis reportedly rang to offer Johnson his resignation, then tried to rescind it when he heard Johnson’s own decision, only for the PM to tell him he could sod off because he’d already accepted it. Again, lol.

After bowing to the inevitable, Johnson did make some appointments, and last night transport minister Robert Courts told Newsnight that “every post is either now filled or will very shortly be filled”. You can read about the new brooms here.

The fight over how long Johnson gets to stay on as PM

Incumbency and inertia count for a lot – but it’s hard to find a constituency with much appetite for Johnson hanging around other than the newly elevated. Andrea Leadsom told the BBC that if he went now he could “salvage what is a good track record”. The Telegraph reports that Michael Gove wants him out by Monday. John Major wrote to the 1922 Committee to say he had no faith that he would restrain himself just because he’d been defenestrated. Keir Starmer said Labour would seek a no confidence vote if Johnson stayed put.

Predictably, Cummings had the most apocalyptic analysis. “I’m telling you – he doesn’t think it’s over,” he wrote on Twitter. “If MPs leave him in situ there’ll be CARNAGE.”

Despite all this, there was no obvious co-ordinated move against Johnson last night. A report from Newsnight suggested a truncated timetable for the leadership election as a compromise, with a new leader in place by September 5. But any deal would need to be approved by the new 1922 committee after its elections on Monday.

The candidates to succeed him

Suella Braverman was first to announce. Steve Baker and Tom Tugendhat also let it be known that they were running, with Tugendhat writing a column to launch his campaign. Sajid Javid’s resignation statement, laden with a reminder of his personal story, had STANDING written all over it. And if Liz Truss didn’t think the actual crisis was important enough to fly back from the G20 summit in Bali for, you can draw your own conclusions from her decision to rush home for the aftermath.

Informed judges also say Rishi Sunak, Ben Wallace, Penny Mordaunt, Nadhim Zahawi, Jeremy Hunt, Kemi Badenoch (???), Grant Shapps, and Priti Patel are also thinking about it, often, they claim, because colleagues are just begging them to. You can read more about some of them here. You may also enjoy the rats-in-a-sack quality of Jacob Rees-Mogg saying Sunak “was not a successful chancellor.”

Anyone telling you there is a clear favourite in such a wide field is just making it up. (Plans are afoot to raise the bar for nominations to whittle things down a bit.)

If you were playing Tory Top Trumps, though, you’d be happy to have Wallace in your pack. The defence minister has been praised over Ukraine, does well in polls of Tory members, and has risen from obscurity so fast that nobody really has a problem with him. He also scores highly on the fairly reliable “choose a leader who is not like the last one” index.

Michael Gove’s preferred post-sacking snack

Is, says Sarah Vine, “ a glass of wine and a slice of salami”.

What else we’ve been reading

  • Zoe Williams reports on the growing number of local people and activists successfully thwarting immigration raids. Says Benny Hunter, involved in one successful action: “I don’t want to live in a society where people are kidnapped from their homes.” Archie

  • Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s interview with Steve Lacy – on the nature of fame, coming out, sex and working with Kendrick Lamar – is a delicious deep dive into the Prince-esque singer. Hannah J Davies, deputy editor, newsletters

  • I enjoyed Dazed’s Q&A with the creator of the infamous Beam Me Up Softboi account on Instagram, which highlights the cringe-inducing (and often manipulative) antics of men in the race-to-the-bottom dating pool. Hannah

  • A joyful work of public service journalism from Michael Cragg, who explains the significance of hun culture, and how it took over the world. OK dot com! Archie

  • The readers have questions for Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, and he does not disappoint. He talks about love, God, a near-death experience and how he got hold of a human skull to bury a USB drive in. Archie


Tennis | Injury forced Rafael Nadal to pull out of his scheduled Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios, meaning Kyrgios advances to the men’s final. Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina will contest the women’s final after both won yesterday.

Football | Northern Ireland had a difficult start to their first major tournament as they were beaten 4-1 by Norway in their Women’s Euro 2022 Group A match in Southampton.

Cricket | A spectacular all-round performance from India consigned England to a crushing T20 defeat in their first match since Eoin Morgan’s international retirement.

The front pages

Guardian front page 8 July
Photograph: The Guardian

The papers offer contrasting coverage of the Boris Johnson saga. “It’s (almost) over” says the Guardian on a poster-style front page featuring just a picture of the prime minister giving his resignation speech. The FT’s headline says “Johnson quits, defiant to the end”, the Times has “Johnson throws in towel”, and the Telegraph goes on senior Tory concerns that his desire to hang on until autumn is freighted with risk: “PM’s long goodbye leaves UK in ‘state of paralysis’”. The Mirror claims that Johnsdon wants to stay on so that he and his wife Carrie can have a planned party at Chequers on 30 July. “Clinging on for one last party” says its headline. The Mail is beside itself with anger at what it calls the “collective hysteria” gripping the Tory party. “What the hell have they done?” it fumes. Like the Mail, the Sun uses a picture of Johnson with Carrie and their son Wilfred in No 10. “Kiss goodbye”, the headline reads, adding below “…and thanks for Brexit”. The Express also focuses on the Brexit line with “Thank you Boris…you gave Britain back its freedom”. The i has a simple “Downfall”, the Metro goes with “Leave means leave” and the Scotsman has “Going, going …but not gone”. The Record just reckons “Worst PM ever”.

Something for the weekend

Our critics’ roundup of the best things to watch, read and listen to right now

In The Baby, a dejected Natasha heads to a remote cabin after yet another pregnancy announcement – only to be confronted by exactly what she sought to get away from: a baby.
In The Baby, a dejected Natasha heads to a remote cabin after yet another pregnancy announcement – only to be confronted by exactly what she sought to get away from: a baby. Photograph: Sky UK/© Sky UK Limited

The Baby (Sky Atlantic)
This miniseries is billed as a comedy-horror. In fact, for mothers, it is more or less documentary. Made by an entirely female team, The Baby will catapult you back to the early days of unnatural motherhood or offer you a reasonable explanation of your current suffering: your baby is possessed and wants you dead. Lucy Mangan

Interpol: The Other Side of Make-Believe

Written remotely during lockdown, with Interpol’s three members scattered across various countries, this album feels noticeably softer and more measured than its predecessor, with flickers of light among the usual foggy gloom. Long past the point where they’re in the business of attracting new fans, Interpol nevertheless keep moving, albeit subtly. Alexis Petridis

Brian and Charles
Happiness, loneliness and silliness come together in this startling emotional adventure from writer-performers David Earl and Chris Hayward. The film is partly about an AI robot called Charles. Thankfully, unlike a lot of serious sci-fi, this film doesn’t demand that we wonder whether or not AI robots are capable of independent thought, etc. It’s the bromance of the year. Peter Bradshaw

Mother Country Radicals
Widely available, episodes weekly

Zayd Ayers Dohrn revisits a childhood spent on the run from the FBI with his family, members of domestic terror group the Weather Underground. He interviews his parents and political figures such as David Axelrod to look at what we can learn from the radical groups of the 70s in a show that’s personal, insightful and hugely considered. Alexi Duggins

Today in Focus

Boris Johnson in 2019.
Boris Johnson in 2019. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The lies and fall of Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson announced his resignation after he accepted that he no longer had the support of his party. Jonathan Freedland describes a man brought down by his own failings

Cartoon of the day | Martin Rowson

Martin Rowson’s cartoon.
Martin Rowson’s cartoon. Illustration: Martin Rowson/The Guardian

The Upside

A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad

In this file photo taken from 2019, a British Airways aeroplane takes off from the runway at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in west London.
In this file photo taken from 2019, a British Airways aeroplane takes off from the runway at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in west London. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

A double whammy of good news – thousands with British Airways flights booked are feeling relief as strike action by check-in staff at Heathrow was suspended saving their holidays, while the staff themselves look set for a healthy bump in pay.

The company is reported to have met the union’s demand to restore the 10% pay cut introduced during the pandemic. It’s just the latest in a series of healthy pay rises awarded as inflation and staff shortages have finally put workers in the driving seat during pay negotiations.

Sign up here for a weekly roundup of The Upside, sent to you every Sunday

Bored at work?

And finally, the Guardian’s crosswords to keep you entertained throughout the day – with plenty more on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. Until Monday.

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