Friday 23 August 2019

Theresa May exits Downing Street through back door - here's how the UK Prime Minister handover unfolds

Theresa May's tenure as UK Prime Minister ends, as Boris Johnson gets set for his new job

Boris Johnson at his new residence in 10 Downing Street
Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo
Boris Johnson at his new residence in 10 Downing Street Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Theresa May makes her final speech as UK Prime Minister today and leave through 10 Downing Street’s back door, but how does the handover to incoming prime minister Mr Johnson unfold?

How will the official handover take place?

Mrs May is expected to make her final address shortly before 2.30pm on Wednesday, when she travels to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen and formally tender her resignation.

It is there that she will recommend that the queen sends for Boris Johnson to be asked to form a new government.

The newly-elected Tory leader will arrive at around 3.30pm and will make his way to his new residence at 10 Downing Street amid a circus of media for around 4pm.

“I have been asked by her majesty to form a new government and I accept.”

Mr Johnson will utter a variation of that customary sentence, like every new prime minister before him. He will then enter 10 Downing Street for the first time as his own residence.

Like accepting the queens request, this is another façade, given he will likely actually make number 11 his home and won’t be ready to move there until Mrs May and 11’s current occupant, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, move out.

Theresa May’s early exit

Mrs May serves her final official day as UK PM today, Wednesday, and will prepare to leave number 10 after only 1,106 days in office.

Prime Minister Theresa May's during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Photo: Press Association
Prime Minister Theresa May's during her last Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Photo: Press Association

For failing to deliver Brexit, the former Conservative Party leader will become the 7th shortest serving prime minister since 1900.

Unlike Mr Johnson, Mrs May largely furnished the house herself. It is unknown exactly when she will leave Mr Johnson a free space for his tax-funded furniture, but it is likely that she will move it to the Berkshire home she shares with husband Phillip.

Mrs May admitted to never feeling at home in Downing Street and told BBC that she felt it resembled “a place of work.”

The Parliamentary office that Mrs May enjoyed next to the Commons chamber will also have to be handed over to Mr Johnson, but she may be in for a swap having been seen viewing Mr Johnston’s huge Commons office in Portcullis House last week.

Mrs May took part in her last Prime Minister's Questions at midday on Wednesday as she said that she will stay on as backbencher, having been an MP for Maidenhead since 1997.

Phillip Hammond gets one last laugh

Mr Hammond has openly spoken in the media about stepping down if Mr Johnson became PM and did so today. Throughout Mr Johnston’s campaign, the Finance Minister disputed the incoming PM’s no-deal stance on Brexit.

Were he not to step down he would likely be fired anyway, but the current occupier of number 11 Downing Street was unlikely to be living with his enemy, after being seen moving suitcases to his car last week.

The problem for Mr Johnson is that, likely to move into the more spacious number 11, of the three connected mansions on Downing Street, he will have to wait for Mr Hammond’s furniture to be moved out.

In one last dig at the new PM, Mr Hammond has reportedly told civil servants he will not move his possessions until at least the weekend.

Boris moving in

Despite Mr Johnson’s humble and constrained nature, he will be forced to endure around 200 staff, working in the three interconnected terraced houses.

Unlike Mrs May, the new PM will accept the option to have new furniture bought for him for his new home.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves his Downing Street home for one of the last times.
July Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves his Downing Street home for one of the last times. July Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

According to reports in The Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson asked the Cabinet Office to furnish the property because he "didn’t have any stuff".

A source from Whitehall, who would furnish the flat reportedly said, "We were very surprised as he is not exactly a poor man, is he? His bill is quite toppy."

Mr Johnson will move from the £1.3million (€1.5m) house that he currently lives in with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds.

Ms Symonds and Mr Johnson will be the first unmarried couple to live in Downing Street if she is to, as is expected, move with the PM.

... and the one constant

Despite all of the changes that will come over Downing Street in the coming days, there will be one constant.

Westminster's most famous moggy, Larry the Cat, who has been a regular fixture and source of humour during all of Mrs May’s tenure as PM, will remain.

Larry actually belongs to the civil servants in the Cabinet Office who buy his food, so the former stray won’t be going anywhere.

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