Boris Johnson is facing a crucial test of strength as he fulfills his dream of becoming PM today – after leadership rival Jeremy Hunt dismissed attempts to demote him.
The Foreign Secretary is believed to have rejected an offer from Mr Johnson to take the job of Defence Secretary in the new government.
And, in a tense 10-minute discussion before the result of the Tory leadership battle was announced, Mr Hunt made clear he will only accept staying in his current role, moving to become Chancellor, or being deputy PM.
The standoff will be a key indicator of how Mr Johnson plans to run his government once he formally takes office later.
As he seeks to inject a ‘can-do’ spirit into government and force through Brexit by the end of October. Mr Johnson is shaping his Cabinet ad will promote a new generation of ministers.
There are also expected to be comebacks for Eurosceptics such as Priti Patel, who was sacked by Theresa May over unauthorised contacts with Israeli politicians.
Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson at the Queen Elizabeth II centre for the result on Tuesday – Mr Hunt is said to have put his foot down over being demoted
Boris Johnson gave a victory salute and thumbs up on Tuesday as he visited Conservative campaign HQ after winning the the leadership contest
Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt clashed fiercely during the Conservative leadership contest, with the eventual loser branding his rival a ‘coward’ and suggesting he could not be trusted.
The jibes enraged many in Mr Johnson’s team, and there has been mounting speculation that Mr Hunt could be axed.
Insiders claim Mr Johnson told his opponent yesterday to expect a move from Foreign Secretary to Defence Secretary, asking him to ‘sleep on it’.
However, Mr Hunt opted to attend the 1922 gathering of Tory MPs in Westminster on Tuesday evening, suggesting he may have been soothed.
Others close to Mr Hunt say he sees himself as a good foil for Mr Johnson and wants to serve in a ‘major job.’
Mr Hunt had been angered by Mr Johnson’s refusal to back US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch who resigned after calling Donald Trump ‘inept’.
A Tory source told the Mail Mr Hunt said to friends: ‘How on Earth am I supposed to go around the world defending that man?’
Mr Johnson trounced Mr Hunt in the Tory leadership election on Tuesday with two-thirds of the vote from the membership.
The new Conservative leader spent the afternoon thrashing out the shape of the rest of his team with aides amid high secrecy, with rumours swirling over who will get the biggest posts when he officially takes over from Theresa May on Wednesday.
Mr Johnson appeared slow to shake hands with Mr Hunt after he was declared the new Conservative leader
Mr Johnson was pictured roaming around Westminster with his newly-installed chief whip Mark Spencer (left)
No formal announcements are expected until after he gets the keys to No10, but Sajid Javid, Liz Truss and Matt Hancock are widely thought to be battling it out to become Chancellor.
Mr Javid arrived for the ’22 with Mr Johnson, in what could be a sign he is destined for the Treasury.
Michael Gove is also tipped for a big step-up from his role as environment secretary.
Mr Johnson’s family including father Stanley, sister Rachel and brother Jo were among those in the audience to hear the news that he had secured 66 per cent of the 140,000 votes from activists. However, there was no sign of girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
The announcement was immediately hailed by US president Donald Trump, who said Mr Johnson would do a ‘great job’. But EU negotiator Michel Barnier indicated that while he wanted to ‘work constructively’ with the new PM the Withdrawal Agreement was not up for grabs.
However, Mr Johnson is also facing a potentially catastrophic Tory mutiny as MPs mobilise against his ‘do or die’ vow to secure Brexit by Halloween – even if it means crashing out without an agreement.
Mark Spencer (pictured with Johnson after his win) has been made the chief whip of the Conservative Party. Little-known outside Westminster, he was an ardent Remainer during the EU Referendum
Education minister Anne Milton quit minutes before Mr Johnson’s coronation, saying she had ‘grave concerns’ and could not fall into line with his Brexit policy. Remainers including Philip Hammond, Rory Stewart and Dominic Grieve also stayed away from the ’22 meeting tonight.
Justice Secretary David Gauke – another of around half-a-dozen ministers who have said they will resign rather than serve under Mr Johnson – issued a stark warning that Parliament will find a way to block No Deal.
After Sir Alan Duncan quit as Foreign Office minister on Monday in an abortive effort to force a confidence vote to block Mr Johnson becoming PM, the leadership front runner embarked on a charm offensive.
He held talks with Chancellor Mr Hammond and Mr Gauke last night, but while discussions were ‘friendly’ they did not back down on their opposition to No Deal.
Mr Johnson’s father Stanley (left) sister Rachel (centre) and brother Jo (right) were among those gathering to hear the Tory leadership result in Westminster
In his victory speech, Mr Johnson – whose ambition as a boy was to be ‘World King’ – paid tribute to Mr Hunt, and thanked Theresa May for her ‘extraordinary’ service to the country. He said he would bring a ‘can do spirit’ to ‘deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn’.
Mr Johnson told Tory activists that critics may ‘question the wisdom of your decision’.
He said: ‘No one party, no one person has a monopoly of wisdom but… it is we Conservatives who have had the best insights into human nature and the best insights into how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.
‘Time and again it is to us that the people of this country have turned to get that balance right.’
Mr Johnson joked that the acronym for his ‘deliver, unite and defeat’ goals was ‘DUD’. But he insisted he was going to add an ‘E’ to make ‘DUDE’.
Mr Johnson seemed nervous as he awaited the confirmation of his victory alongside Mr Hunt in Westminster
Mr Hunt (pictured arriving for the result with wife Lucia) was the runner-up in the bruising six-week Tory contest
‘Dude, we are going to energise the country,’ he said to laughter. ‘Like some slumbering giant we are going to arise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt.’
Sources in Mr Johnson’s camp had predicted he would secure more than 60 per cent of the vote, giving him a ‘free hand’ to sack his enemies and steer the Tories on a new course.
A source close to Mr Johnson said Cabinet appointments would not be made until Wednesday evening.