Boris Johnson critic quits Government ahead of leadership announcement

A prominent critic of Boris Johnson has quit as a Government minister ahead of the result of the Tory leadership race.

Mr Johnson is widely expected to defeat Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to become the Tory leader when the result of the contest is announced on Tuesday.

In a further sign of the difficulties he will face in uniting a bitterly divided Tory party, Sir Alan Duncan – an outspoken opponent of Mr Johnson – has quit as a Foreign Office minister before the incoming prime minister takes office.

His resignation will not be the last, with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke having already confirmed they will quit rather than be sacked by Mr Johnson.

Sir Alan has been one of Mr Johnson's fiercest critics on the Tory benches.

In June he described Mr Johnson as a "circus act" and last year he promised to end the former foreign secretary's political career over his comparison of Theresa May's Brexit deal to a "suicide vest".

His resignation came after Mr Johnson restated his firm intention to get the UK out of the European Union by the end of October, claiming a deal with Brussels could be reached if the country has the "will" and the "drive" for Brexit.

The former foreign secretary said if it was possible to get to the moon and back 50 years ago then the problem of frictionless trade on the Irish border could be solved.

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Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
Retransmitted correcting byline to Yui Mok Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson leaving his office in Westminster, London.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson leaving his office in Westminster, London.
A blimp depicting Boris Johnson is launched in Parliament Square, London, ahead of a pro-European Union a march organised by March for Change.
A Pro EU demonstrator is seen wearing Conservative Party leadership contender Boris Johnson's face mask while holding a placard, during the �No to Boris. Yes to Europe� march in central London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A stilts-walker wearing a giant Nigel Farage's head pulling two puppets, the Conservative leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, during the �No to Boris. Yes to Europe� march in central London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson jumps down from a trailer during a visit to King & Co tree nursery, in Braintree, Essex, ahead of the Tory leadership hustings in Colchester, Essex.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson in a fork lift truck during a visit to King & Co tree nursery, in Braintree, Essex, ahead of the Tory leadership hustings in Colchester, Essex.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a Tory leadership hustings in London.
Supporters of Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson before a Tory leadership hustings in London.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, Chairman of JD Wetherspoon.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, Chairman of JD Wetherspoon.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, Chairman of JD Wetherspoon.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to construction work for the expansion of Terminal Two at Manchester Airport.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to construction work for the expansion of Terminal Two at Manchester Airport.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to construction work for the expansion of Terminal Two at Manchester Airport.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson watches as a sheep is prepared for shearing during a visit to Nosterfield farm near Ripon in North Yorkshire, ahead of the latest hustings in York later.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson holds up a string of sausages around his neck during a visit to Heck Foods Ltd. headquarters near Bedale in North Yorkshire ahead of the latest hustings in York later.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson sits in a chair in a clothing shop during a visit to Guisborough, North Yorkshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson makes sausages during a visit to Heck Foods Ltd. headquarters near Bedale in North Yorkshire ahead of the latest hustings in York later.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson during a Tory leadership hustings at Darlington Hippodrome.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson makes sausages during a visit to Heck Foods Ltd. headquarters near Bedale in North Yorkshire ahead of the latest hustings in York later.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to Guisborough, North Yorkshire.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arriving at a Tory leadership hustings in York.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a visit to Nosterfield farm near Ripon in North Yorkshire, ahead of the latest hustings in York later.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson poses for a selfie with a steelworker during a visit to Guisborough, North Yorkshire.
Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson looks through binoculars on the bridge of the Isle of Wight ferry as it sets sail from Portsmouth.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson poses for a photo at the Wight Shipyard Company at Venture Quay during a visit to the Isle of Wight.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives for a Tory leadership hustings in Crooklands in Cumbria.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson addresses party members at the Oaktree Arena in Highbridge, Somerset.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson thumbs up as he leaves an event after addressing party members at the Oaktree Arena in Highbridge, Somerset.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaking during a Tory leadership hustings at Carlisle Racecourse.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaking during a Tory leadership hustings at Carlisle Racecourse.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaking in Exeter during a Tory leadership hustings.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson sits in a boat under construction at the Venture Quay boatyard during a visit to the Isle of Wight.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives to speak at a Tory leadership hustings at Carlisle Racecourse.
Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson looks out from the bridge of the Isle of Wight ferry St Faith, as it sets sail from Portsmouth.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaking at a campaign event in Wombourne in the West Midlands.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (left) and Dominic Rabb in The Victoria public house in Oxshott, Surrey.
Supporters during Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson's leadership hustings in Crooklands in Cumbria.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson (left) watching his son speak in Exeter during a Tory leadership hustings.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson at a campaign event in Wombourne in the West Midlands.
Campaigners from Our Future, Our Choice (OFOC) flood Lord North Street in Westminster, London, where Boris Johnson's campaign headquarters is , with 2000 rubber ducks.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson with a supporter at a Tory leadership hustings in Crooklands in Cumbria.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson speaking at a Tory leadership hustings in Crooklands in Cumbria.
Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson at a campaign event at the Lion Quays Hotel in Oswestry, Shropshire.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson has a drink in the Munch and Wiggles cafe in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (left) and Dominic Rabb in The Victoria public house in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (centre) and Dominic Rabb (right) talk to staff in the Surrey Hills Butchers in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (left) and Dominic Rabb in The Victoria public house in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (right) interacts with local business people in the Munch and Wiggles cafe in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (second left) weighs some produce in the Surrey Hills Butchers in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (right) interacts with local business people in the Munch and Wiggles cafe in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (right) interacts with local business people in the Munch and Wiggles cafe in Oxshott, Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (left) and Dominic Rabb, in The Victoria public house in Oxshott, Surrey.
RETRANSMISSION adding name of Hayley Monckton. Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (centre) walks with David Alexander (left, Director of Estates at the RHS) and Hayley Monckton (front right, Director of Communications at the RHS) while touring the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a tour of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson talks to a visitor as he tours the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson talks to visitors during a tour of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during a tour of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson (centre) gestures to visitors as his staff members walk up the steps, during a tour of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden at Wisley, in Surrey.
Boris Johnson pictured during a live phone in with LBC presenter Nick Ferrari, at their studios in central London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2019. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
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On the eve of the leadership ballot closing, Mr Johnson – who is widely expected to become prime minister on Wednesday – said it was time the country rediscovered its "sense of mission".

He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: "If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth's atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border.

"There is no task so simple that government cannot over-complicate if it doesn't want to do it. And there are few tasks so complex that humanity cannot solve if we have a real sense of mission to pull them off.

"It is time this country recovered some of its can-do spirit. We can come out of the EU on October 31, and yes, we certainly have the technology to do so. What we need now is the will and the drive."

POLITICS Tories
(PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson claimed there were "technological pessimists" who think such a solution is impossible.

But he said: "There is abundant scope to find the solutions necessary – and they can and will be found, in the context of the Free Trade Agreement that we will negotiate with the EU (and this is common to both candidates in the current leadership contest) after we have left on October 31."

The ballot of Conservative Party members will close at 5pm on Monday, with the result due to be announced on Tuesday morning.

Mrs May will tender her resignation to the Queen after taking Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon, with the new Tory leader set to enter Number 10 soon after.

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