The Tory leadership race may not go the distance and Boris Johnson’s term in No 10 may end before the expected September conclusion of the contest, the Prime Minister has indicated.
At what might be his final Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson suggested his successor could be chosen “by acclamation” rather than requiring the planned vote.
He told MPs he would be leaving office “with my head held high”.
The first round of voting in the leadership contest was taking place on Wednesday afternoon.
Subsequent rounds of voting by MPs will whittle the field of contenders down to a final two, with the membership of the Tory party then deciding on the eventual winner who is due to be named on September 5.
Mr Johnson is expected to face one final session of Prime Minister’s Questions next week, but he raised the prospect that a new leader could be in place before then.
“The next leader of my party may be elected by acclamation so it’s possible this will be our last confrontation… it’s possible,” he told Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Mr Johnson defended his record on Brexit, infrastructure projects and supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“It’s perfectly true that I leave not at a time of my choosing, absolutely true,” Mr Johnson said.
“But I am proud of the fantastic teamwork that has been involved in all of those projects both nationally and internationally, and I am also proud of the leadership that I have given.
“I will be leaving soon with my head held high.”
Boris Johnson at PMQs House of Commons
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons House of Commons