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    Live Updates: Jeremy Hunt To Stay But Michael Gove Sacked As Theresa May Wields Cabinet Axe

    Hunt will remain as health secretary, but Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, and John Whittingdale are making way for new appointments.

    • Theresa May entered 10 Downing Street as prime minister after meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.
    • Earlier on Wednesday, Cameron held his last PMQs before leaving Downing Street accompanied by his family.
    • In her first remarks as PM, May said her government would "forge a bold new role" for Britain on the world stage and not work "for a privileged few, but every one of us".
    • May has been appointing her cabinet. Philip Hammond, formerly foreign secretary, is now chancellor of the exchequer. His predecessor, George Osborne, has resigned from the government.
    • In the biggest surprise, Boris Johnson has been appointed foreign secretary. Amber Rudd will head up the Home Office, Liam Fox has been appointed into a new position heading international trade, and David Davis will oversee the UK's exit from the EU.
    • Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, John Whittingdale, and Theresa Villiers have lost their cabinet jobs. Liz Truss is the UK's first lord chancellor, Jeremy Hunt remains as health secretary, Gavin Williamson will be chief whip, and Patrick McLoughlin moves to Tory chair.
    • Meanwhile, the Labour party has continued to fracture.
    • Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have both announced bids for the leadership, triggering a bitter contest with incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has continued to refuse to resign. He will automatically appear on the leadership ballot following a decision by the party's national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday evening.
    Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images


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    "There will be no more ministerial appointments this evening".

    John Stillwell / PA WIRE

    It's been a long day. But Downing Street has just confirmed that Conservative MPs aspiring to join the government can leave their offices and step away from their phones.

    In a brief press release announcing that Ben Gummer, former health minister, will be made minister for the cabinet office, there was also a note telling us we can all go home.

    "There will be no further ministerial appointments this evening."

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    David Lidington promoted to leader of the House of Commons

    John Thys / AFP / Getty Images

    As Europe minister, Lidington was at the forefront of negotiations that the deal former prime minister David Cameron took to the nation before the referendum over whether the UK should leave the European Union.

    He's now been promoted to leader of the house, replacing Chris Grayling.

    Downing Street has also confirmed that Jeremy Wright will continue in his role as attorney general.

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    David Gauke has been named chief secretary to the Treasury

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    Gauke, who has worked as financial secretary to the Treasury since July 2014, gets a small promotion and will now sit in the cabinet.

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    Amid the rolling appointments, it has emerged that Priti Patel – formerly of the Department of Work and Pensions – had called for the department she is now heading to be scrapped.

    In 2013, she told the Daily Telegraph the government should consider scrapping DfID and replacing it with a new department to help businesses invest in the developing world.

    She told the newspaper at the time: "A long-term strategic assessment is required, including the consideration to replace DfID with a Department for International Trade and Development in order to enable the UK to focus on enhancing trade with the developing world and seek out new investment opportunities in the global race."

    She also criticised the department in the Sun newspaper, suggesting that the funding for overseas staff could be better spent helping people in the UK.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Karen Bradley is the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

    MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, elected at the 2010 general election, Bradley appears to be relatively unknown. She is the eighth woman so far appointed, out of 22 positions.

    Rex Features

    Shortly after her announcement, it emerged that Alun Cairns would stay on as secretary of state for Wales.

    Jack Taylor / Getty Images

    Cairns has held the position since March of this year, when Stephen Crabb was promoted to secretary of work and pensions.

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    Priti Patel has been appointed international development secretary

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    Formerly in the Department for Work and Pensions, Patel replaces Justine Greening, who has moved to head up Education. Patel will head up the Department for International Development.

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    Greg Clark has been appointed secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    Clark's new department appears to merge a number of old ones together. He has been MP for Tunbridge Wells since 2005.

    In a statement, Clark said:

    "I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading Government's relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change."

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    James Brokenshire appointed as minister for Northern Ireland

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    The MP for Bexley and Sidcup was a Remain campaigner. He will take over the position of secretary for Northern Ireland from Theresa Villiers, who resigned from her position earlier today.

    In a statement, Villiers said although she had been offered a role by May "it was not one which I felt I could take on".

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    Sajid Javid has been appointed communities minister

    Carl Court / Getty Images

    Formerly secretary for the Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills, Javid had pitched alongside Stephen Crabb for his leadership campaign. Instead, he will head up the Department for Communities and Local Government.

    The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

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    Former Tory leadership rival Andrea Leadsom gets DEFRA

    Andrew Matthews / PA WIRE

    May's former leadership rival Andrea Leadsom she will head up the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Leadsom quit the Tory leadership race on Monday, clearing the way for May to become prime minister.

    So @andrealeadsom gets promoted. She becomes DEFRA minister. A Cabinet job. 6 days after *that* @thetimes interview

    Much of Leadsom's new role will focus on helping farmers across the country who will lose European Union subsidies as a result of the Brexit vote. The MP for South Northamptonshire was a prominent Leave campaigner, and suggested during the campaign that these subsidies could be replaced by "environmental credits" from the UK government.

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    Damian Green has been appointed the new secretary for work and pensions

    Oli Scarff / Getty Images

    Green, MP for Ashford since 1997, takes over at the Department for Work and Pensions from Stephen Crabb. Crabb resigned from the government this afternoon, saying it was "in the interests of his family" to do so.

    Green was police minister in the coalition government, but was sacked from the position in the 2014 reshuffle. He is known to be one of May's oldest allies.

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    Chris Grayling has been appointed transport minister

    Carl Court / Getty Images

    Grayling replaces Patrick McLoughlin, who was appointed chairman of the Conservative party earlier today. Grayling was one of May's strongest supporters, and ran her (brief) leadership campaign. Many had speculated he would be rewarded for his work with a higher-profile position.

    Chris Grayling is the new Transport Secretary. First item: new runway. His constituency is halfway between Heathrow and Gatwick.

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    Stephen Crabb resigns from the government

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Crabb, formerly secretary for work and pensions, said his resignation was "in the interests of his family", according to Press Association.

    Crabb gone - not clear if he was offered something more junior and refused or was sacked

    Less than a week ago Crabb was found have exchanged sexts with a woman who was not his wife, The Times reported.

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    Leadsom supporter quits government

    Yui Mok / PA WIRE

    Theresa Villiers, far right, on a march in support of former Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom.

    Theresa Villiers has quit as Northern Ireland secretary. She posted on Facebook to say she had been offered a new role by Theresa May, "but it was not one which I felt I could take on".

    "I wish the prime minister well in the great task on which she and her government are about to embark to seize the many positive opportunities presented by the Brexit vote," Villiers, who backed Andrea Leadsom as Tory leader, wrote.

    "They will have my full support in that vital work. I look forward to continuing to represent the interests of my Chipping Barnet constituents in Parliament with enthusiasm and diligence."

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    Correction: Jeremy Hunt is STAYING as health secretary

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    It was reported earlier that Jeremy Hunt would be leaving the Department of Health, perhaps for another job in government, but it can now be confirmed that he is definitely staying as health secretary.

    Official confirmation: Jeremy Hunt 100% WILL DEFINITELY be staying as health secretary.

    Jeremy Hunt staying on as health secretary, despite initial rumours otherwise.

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    Cameron's transport secretary becomes Tory chairman

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Patrick McLoughlin has been named the Tory party chair and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

    That leaves a vacancy at the Department for Transport.

    Patrick McLoughlin is Tory chairman and chancellor of duchy of lancaster, so that means someone new at transport to deal with HS2/Heathrow.

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    Cameron fixer become government chief whip

    Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images

    Gavin Williamson, former parliamentary private secretary to David Cameron, has been made chief whip by Theresa May.

    Speaking to Sky News outside Downing Street, he said he felt "very surprised, very privileged".

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    Justine Greening replaces Morgan as education secretary

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Greening, the former international development secretary, has been named as the new education secretary, replacing Nicky Morgan who tweeted earlier to confirm she was leaving the government.

    As with Morgan, Greening will also hold the position of minister for women and equalities.

    She recently revealed she was in a same-sex relationship.

    Justine Greening has been appointed education secretary & minister for women and equalities, replacing Nicky Morgan.

    Morgan wished her successor well in a tweet.

    Congrats to my successor @JustineGreening - she's committed to excellence in education, equalities and did great work for women at DIFID

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    Liz Truss replaces Michael Gove as justice secretary

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Justice secretary is a relatively new cabinet role created in 2007. Truss, the former environment secretary, is the first woman to hold the position.

    Here she is talking about pork markets at the Tory party conference in 2014.

    View this video on YouTube
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    Jeremy Hunt reportedly loses health secretary job

    Stefan Rousseau / PA WIRE

    Jeremy Hunt, who earlier this year said being health secretary was probably going to be his "last big job in politics", has reportedly lost his job.

    Jeremy Hunt has lost his position as Health Secretary

    However, according to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg, he has not been sacked, but about to be moved into a different department.

    Hunt not sacked, getting a different job

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    Oliver Letwin, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (it's a real job), has been sacked, Downing Street has confirmed.

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Letwin had overall responsibility for the Cabinet Office as well.

    In a written statement, Downing Street also confirmed that Gove, Morgan, and Whittingdale had left their cabinet posts.

    Oliver Letwin is no longer in the cabinet, Downing Street has confirmed.

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    John Whittingdale confirms he has been sacked as culture secretary

    Pa / PA WIRE

    Has been a privilege to serve as Culture Secretary. I wish my successor every success & will continue to support creative industries

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    Nicky Morgan confirms she has been sacked

    Ian West / PA WIRE

    Education secretary Nicky Morgan has tweeted to confirm she is not retaining the position in May's cabinet.

    Disappointed not to be continuing as Education Secretary & Min for Women & Equalities - two wonderful roles it's been a privilege to hold

    She will also relinquish the role of minister for women and equalities.

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    Michael Gove has been sacked as justice secretary

    Stefan Rousseau / PA WIRE

    The former Tory leadership hopeful hasn't been offered a job by prime minister Theresa May and will instead join David Cameron and George Osborne on the backbenches.

    He later tweeted to say it had been an "enormous privilege" to serve in government over the last six years.

    It's been an enormous privilege to serve for the last six years. Best of luck to the new government - MG

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    Eagle gave a speech bashing the Tories at a pro-Europe event in London last night.

    "Oh Boris is fun, he's great, isn't he, bouncing around, going to be the next prime minister and all of that," she said, before someone from the audience informed her Johnson had just been made foreign secretary.

    Her reaction speaks volumes.

    View this video on YouTube

    Weekend editor Matthew Champion reports.

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    Reaction to Boris Johnson's appointment as foreign secretary has started

    Senior French government source on BoJo as foreign secretary: the word used by colleagues at Quai d'Orsay yesterday evening was "incredible"

    Over in the US, state department spokesperson Mark Toner had the following reaction to Johnson's appointment.

    In Germany, Angela Merkel declined to comment on the appointment, but other politicians were less reticent.

    Green party co-leader Simone Peter said putting Johnson in the position was akin to "trusting the cat to keep the cream", according to The Guardian.

    Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt had this to say:

    I wish it was a joke, but I fear it isn't. Exit upon exit.

    Cher also weighed in with her opinion.

    Cher / Via Twitter: @cher
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    New chancellor Philip Hammond indicates no emergency budget threatened by his predecessor

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    In his first remarks on Thursday morning, Hammond indicated to Sky News the government had no intention of implementing an emergency Budget, as outlined by former chancellor George Osborne ahead of the referendum vote.

    "The prime minister made clear we will do an Autumn Statement in the usual way - in the autumn – and we will look carefully over the summer at the situation.

    "I'm seeing the governor of the Bank of England this morning and we will take stock," he said.

    Osborne, who resigned from the government last night to make way for Hammond, had warned throughout the referendum campaign should the UK decide to leave the EU there would be an economic reckoning. He told the public that in the event of a Leave vote, the Treasury would push through £30 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts, including taking £2.5 billion from the NHS.

    "The No. 1 challenge is to stabilise the economy, send signals of confidence about the future, the plans we have for the future to the markets, to businesses, to international investors, Britain is open for business, we are not turning our back on the world, we are determined to maintain our outward-looking stance," Hammond told Sky News this morning.

    "We will do whatever we need to do to restore confidence."

    The new chancellor, who will meet Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, later, told BBC Breakfast that the country's decision to leave the EU had "rattled" confidence. He said there was a need to distinguish between the short and long-term effects of the EU referendum vote.

    "It isn't about making people who are already fantastically rich, richer," he said. It is about ensuring rising prosperity for the great bulk of people in the country.

    "Success is measured in having rising standards of living, rising numbers of jobs in the economy, increasing economic security for the great majority of people in the country. That's our aspiration and we are determined to deliver it."

    'It's not about making the fantastically rich richer' Hammond's pledge for 'rising prosperity' for 'ordinary people'

    Hammond, a staunch ally of new PM Theresa May, was her first appointment last night. May is expected to announce more cabinet appointments in the course of the day.

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    The British newspapers have all led with the tumultuous events of yesterday, with many commenting on new PM Theresa May's first appointments

    Neil Henderson / The Times / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
    Neil Henderson / The Daily Telegraph / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
    Neil Henderson / The Guardian / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
    Neil Henderson / The i / Via Twitter: @hendopolis

    Others have focused on the Cameron family's departure from Number 10 – and Boris Johnson's spectacular return

    Neil Henderson / The Daily Mail / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
    Neil Henderson / The Sun / Via Twitter: @hendopolis

    And finally, The Mirror and The National ran with the following...

    Neil Henderson / The Mirror / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
    Neil Henderson / The National / Via Twitter: @hendopolis
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    The biggest surprise of the evening came when Theresa May, just hours after she became Britain's second female prime minister, appointed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.

    David Davis given the crucial job of overseeing Brexit. Liam Fox, another leading Brexiter who ran for the leadership himself, will head a new international trade department.

    Amber Rudd received the position of home secretary, occupying the role once held by May. It's a huge promotion for Rudd, who previously served as energy secretary. May also appointed long-time ally Philip Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer.

    Michael Fallon will stay on as defence secretary. And George Osborne, once touted as a possible prime minister, has "resigned" from the government, according to a statement from Number 10.

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    David Davis has been appointed into the new position of Brexit minister

    Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

    The prominent Leave campaigner, and MP for Haltemprice and Howden, was Europe minister in the 1990s. The new position refers to "exiting" the European Union, according to the official statement from Number 10:

    The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Rt Hon David Davis MP as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

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    Liam Fox to head up new department for international trade

    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    The former UK defence secretary put himself forward as a candidate for the Tory leadership, but was one of the first to bow out of the campaign. Fox, MP for North Somerset, resigned in disgrace from the previous Tory government in 2011.

    Meanwhile, Michael Fallon to stay on as defence secretary

    Neil Hall / Reuters

    Fallon will remain in the position he has held since 2014.

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    Amber Rudd has been appointed home secretary

    Carl Court / Getty Images

    The third appointment of the evening from the new PM, Rudd was secretary of state for energy and climate change. Addressing reporters outside Number 10, Rudd said she was "very pleased" with the appointment.

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    Boris Johnson has been appointed foreign secretary

    Hannah Mckay / PA WIRE

    The prominent Leave campaigner takes over from Philip Hammond, now chancellor of the exchequer. A statement from Number 10 read:

    The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

    The appointment of the former London mayor, who May took a swipe at in her speech launching her campaign for the leadership, has been received with surprise. The Foreign Office cat, Palmerston, had the following to say about his office's new occupant:

    Farewell @PHammondMP. I'm on the way to meet the new boss @BorisJohnson

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    Philip Hammond has been appointed chancellor of the exchequer

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    Hammond, formerly foreign secretary, takes over the position from George Osborne. The new chancellor is seen as a safe pair of hands, and has been transport secretary and defence secretary before his previous role heading the Foreign Office.

    Osborne was once spoken of as a possible prime minister, but in just over two tumultuous jobs Osborne is no longer even part of the government.

    A year ago Westminster consensus had Osborne as favourite to be next prime minister and now he's not even in the government. Strange times.

    Breaking: George Osborne was sacked. Theresa May told him she didn't want him in her Cabinet. Wow.

    Here is the press release from Number 10.

    The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    The Rt Hon George Osborne MP has resigned from Government.

    Further ministerial appointments will be announced this evening.

    In the hour following his departure from the government, Osborne has put out this tweet:

    It's been a privilege to be Chancellor these last 6 yrs. Others will judge - I hope I've left the economy in a better state than I found it.

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    Britain's new prime minister Theresa May has pledged to fight against "burning injustice" and govern for everyone "not for the privileged few".

    Standing outside her new home in Downing Street, the Conservative PM vowed to protect "ordinary working-class families" and help everyone achieve their dreams no matter their background.

    May's first speech as prime minister had echoes of Thatcher's debut speech in 1979, which quoted from St Francis of Assisi: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony."

    .@Theresa_May puts social justice at the heart of her first speech as Prime Minister

    With her husband Philip standing behind her, May said: "The government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.

    "When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws, we'll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes, we'll prioritise not the wealthy, but you.

    "When it comes to opportunity, we won't entrench the advantages of the fortunate few, we will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you."

    She concluded: "As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.

    "That will be the mission of the government I lead. And together, we will build a better Britain."

    Justin Tallis / AFP/Getty Images
    AFP / Getty Images

    Here May is greeted by in Downing Street by Number 10 staff.

    Press Association

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Theresa May becomes UK’s second female prime minister

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    The former home secretary has become Britain's second female PM, formally accepting the position from Queen Elizabeth II after David Cameron resigned.

    May and the Queen spent just short of half an hour together in Buckingham Palace. The new PM's husband also meet the Queen.

    In the moments after the news was announced, London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, offered his "warmest congratulations" to May. "Theresa takes on the role at a critical time in our history and I look forward to working constructively together in the interest of London and the whole UK," he said in a statement.

    Looking forward to working with our new PM, @theresa_may, in the best interests of our city and country

    The White House has also released a statement congratulating May on her appointment, as did Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, who wished May "every success in the task ahead".

    My warmest congratulations to @theresa_may - I look forward to working closely with you and wish you every success

    Other congratulations swiftly rolled in. Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party, both wished May well in her new role. Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau said he looked "forward to working closely" with May, and offered her his congratulations.

    Here May, now the country's PM, leaves Buckingham Palace to address crowds outside Number 10.

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    Cameron: Being PM has been the "greatest honour of my life"

    Adam Gray / Adam Gray /

    David Cameron has left Downing Street for the last time as prime minister.

    As his wife Samantha and their children Elwyn, Nancy, and Florence looked on, Cameron said it had been the "greatest honour of my life" to serve as prime minister for six years and Tory leader for a decade.

    "And as we leave for the last time," he said, "my only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much."

    Cameron praised his successor, Theresa May: "I am delighted that for the second time in British history the new prime minister will be a woman – and, once again, a Conservative. I believe Theresa will provide strong and stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected, and I wish her well in negotiating the best possible terms for Britain's exit from the European Union."

    In his farewell speech, the outgoing PM thanked his family, his team in No. 10, civil servants, and his political advisers.

    He also praised Britain's armed forces, intelligence agencies, and police, as well as people who volunteer in their communities.

    Cameron has arrived at Buckingham Palace, where he will formally resign in the presence of the Queen ahead of being replaced by May later this evening.

    It's been a privilege to serve the country that I love.

    Carl Court / Getty Images
    Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
    Carl Court / Getty Images
    Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
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    David Cameron's approval ratings slump to their lowest ever level as he steps down

    Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

    The prime minister's approval ratings have fallen to their lowest ever level, according to research published on his last day in office.

    David Cameron, who will resign as prime minister this afternoon, is seen unfavourably by more than 50% of the public. His satisfaction ratings have taken a sharp hit after weeks of economic and political uncertainty following the decision by voters to leave the European Union.

    Polling conducted by Ipsos Mori has revealed that Cameron's net satisfaction rating has fallen to -38, with the share of the public who say they are dissatisfied rising by 8%. This is similar to public dissatisfaction with former prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

    Sixty-five per cent of voters say that they are dissatisfied with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing a leadership challenge in his own party.

    But there is good news for Theresa May: Fifty-five per cent of those polled said they believed the home secretary would make a good prime minister.

    This is strikingly different to the reaction to former mayor of London Boris Johnson. Seventy per cent said they don't think he has what it takes to be a good prime minister.

    Political correspondent Siraj Datoo reports.

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    Here’s Who Gets A Vote In Labour’s Leadership Election

    Chris Ratcliffe / AFP / Getty Images

    The Labour party has established the rules on who gets a vote in their leadership election. The details are pretty complicated, but here's the summary.

    • Any Labour member who joined before January 2016 gets a vote.
    • People who support Labour (and aren't members/supporters of another party) can pay £25 to become a registered supporter. This is only open between 18–20 July.
    • Members of any union affiliated to Labour can sign up for a vote before 8 August.
    • Members of groups affiliated to Labour by 8 August – such as LGBT Labour and BAME Labour – have a vote.

    Special correspondent James Ball reports.

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    Civil Liberties Groups Are Anxious About Theresa May

    Carl Court / Getty Images

    As the UK's home secretary since 2010, Theresa May has been responsible for pushing through the UK's surveillance laws, as well as enforcing rules on deporting failed asylum-seekers and being the tough face of government policies to tighten immigration.

    But some campaigners contacted by BuzzFeed News have pointed to a second Theresa May: the May who in her early days as home secretary, after her surprise appointment to the role, repealed Labour's ID cards and control order policies.

    "There is some promise," Dr Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, told BuzzFeed News. "We look forward to seeing which May shows up to Number 10 Downing Street.

    "We could see the authoritarian who uses any opportunity to decry human rights laws as the bane of our existence even as she builds systems that fail; or the liberally minded politician who when she was in opposition sought to repeal identity cards and wanted to see civil liberties at the centre of policymaking, and who destroyed the previous government's databases."

    What comes next

    Hosein said that on balance he wasn't holding out much hope, telling BuzzFeed News the country could be a facing a "dark illiberal period". "We are not optimistic," he said.

    Jim Killock, the executive director of Open Rights Group, said his main concern was May's attitude towards EU-granted rights and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

    "Theresa May has been a critic of human rights courts, and until this week said she wished the UK to exit the ECHR," he told BuzzFeed News. "She has ignored the implications of key EU legal judgments that have set the standard around data retention.

    "From this view, one of the big dangers is that Theresa May will see benefits in moving away from the EU legal regime, particularly where it protects fundamental rights."

    Special correspondent James Ball reports.

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    David Cameron has returned to Number 10 with his family

    Philip Toscano / PA WIRE
    Philip Toscano / PA WIRE
    Philip Toscano / PA WIRE

    The PM will finish moving out from the official residence this afternoon. He will see the Queen, who has now returned to London from Norfolk, and offer his resignation. It is expected he will be accompanied to Buckingham Palace by his wife, Samantha, and possibly their children.

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    In his final PMQs David Cameron appeared to enjoy himself immensely, which is perhaps more than could be said for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour benches.

    After Corbyn mentioned Theresa May, needling about her time in the Home Office, Cameron immediately shot back by congratulating May and telling the Commons to loud cheers: "When it comes to women prime ministers, I'm very pleased to say pretty soon it will be two-nil. And not a pink bus in sight."

    Cameron then responded to Corbyn's question about the government's slow action on tackling homelessness by saying that the government had reduced "relative" poverty by 30,000 people. He went on: "To be accused of sloth in delivery by the Right Honourable Gentleman – let's just take the last week: We've had resignation, nomination, and coronation – they haven't even decided what the rules are yet."

    To huge cheers from the bench Tory benches, he ended: "If they ever got into power it would take them about a year to work out who would sit where!"

    The blows kept coming from Cameron as he compared the embattled Labour leader to Monty Python's "Black Knight" sketch. "He's been kicked so many times, but he says, 'Keep going, it's only a flesh wound!'"

    This is bizarre parliament sight: Tory MPs cheering Corbyn's statements, Labour MPs laughing at Cameron's jokes.

    Another high point for the Tories was Cameron turning the tables on Corbyn's traditional method of reading a letter from the public. "I got this on the 16 September 2015 from someone called Judith," he began.

    "She said, 'Please, please keep dignity and not triumphalism, because Tom Watson, who may oust Jeremy Corbyn, is a very different kettle of fish, he's experienced, organised and far more dangerous in the long term. Let him create his own party disunity.'

    "After this is over, I've got to find Judith and find out what happens next," he said to roars from the Commons.

    Cameron also laid to bed one rumour, providing some light relief over the turbulent past few days regarding the Downing Street cat, Larry. "The rumour that somehow I don't love Larry, I do," he said.

    "I can't take Larry with me, he belongs to the house, and the staff love him very much, as do I."

    David Cameron, you old flirt #PMQs ❤️❤️❤️

    Cameron ended his sparring with Corbyn by promising that he would pass on his compliments to his mother, who famously was quoted by the PM as being critical of Corbyn's sometimes shabby appearance.

    "I was the future once," Cameron said in his final words as PM. He then received a standing ovation as he left the chamber.

    Cameron's final remarks in PMQs:

    Facebook: video.php

    The PM will offer his resignation to the Queen at 5pm today. His wife, Samantha, and their children Elwen and Florence also watched from the gallery.

    And finally, here's a photograph by MP Robert Halfron of Cameron's last moments at the dispatch box.

    Will not forget David Cameron's last PMQs: a decent man who did best for our country creating millions of jobs

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    John McDonnell has said he has "no recollection" of Labour split remarks

    BBC News

    John McDonnell tells me has has "no recollection" of shrugging his shoulders or saying "If that's what it takes" over Labour split

    "There was no way that I would support a split in the party, and I don't think it will happen," he told the BBC on Wednesday morning.

    "I do not want this party to split and it won't split - Shadow Chancellor @johnmcdonnellMP

    Earlier on Wednesday, McDonnell also defended his remarks on Tuesday night at a pro-Corbyn event. It followed the NEC's decision to automatically place the Labour leader on the leadership ballot. Discussing those opposed to Corbyn's leadership, McDonnell reportedly told the crowd:

    They have been plotting and conniving. The only good thing about it, as plotters they're fucking useless.

    Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, the shadow chancellor said his remarks had been made in a light-hearted fashion at a "stand-up comedy event". He added: "I'm an ordinary bloke. I used some bad language."

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    David Cameron has left Number 10 for his final PMQs

    Hannah Mckay / PA WIRE

    It is Cameron's final day as PM and he will address the House of Commons as prime minister for the last time at midday. Usually he leaves Downing Street at around 11.45, according to The Guardian.

    Larry the cat remains unimpressed by the past two turbulent weeks.

    Hannah Mckay / PA WIRE

    But he'll soon have a new occupant at Number 10. As Cameron departs, the moving vans have arrived in force. And photographers managed to catch one great snap of the items arriving...

    Daniel Leal-olivas / AFP / Getty Images
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    Owen Smith (left) Gareth Fuller / PA WIRE

    Owen Smith, the former shadow work and pensions minister, has announced he can bring the Labour party back together as he threw his hat into the ring for leader, and denied suggestions that his bid will split the Labour party.

    The Pontypridd MP said he would be a "radical and credible leader of the Labour party" – but insisted he had never been part of any plot against Corbyn.

    It means he will join Angela Eagle in the contest as they both seek to unseat the veteran left-winger they believe has no prospect of getting Labour into power.

    Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Smith attacked Corbyn's allies, including the shadow chancellor, as "part of the problem".

    "To John McDonnell I said I feared he had decided that people in his part of the party wanted to split the Labour party – and he shrugged his shoulders and said, 'If that's what it takes,'" he said.

    "I'm not prepared to stand by and let the Labour party – the party I love and that has been the greatest force for good in this country – split. It cannot happen."

    He added: "I will never split the Labour party, I will be Labour until the day I die. I will do the decent thing and fight Jeremy Corbyn on the issues."

    Smith says he would be 'radical and credible' - big thing that might help him vs Eagle is that he did not vote for Iraq

    Smith also very briefly outlined his position on a number of key issues. On Iraq, he said he although he had not been an MP at the time of the vote, he was opposed to the invasion. He was a political aide at the time. However, he drew short of saying that he would vote for a parliamentary motion to hold former PM Tony Blair in contempt.

    Finally, in the run-up to the Trident vote on Monday, Smith said he had been a member of the disarmament group CND and he would like multilateral disarmament. However, he continued that he "will vote to retain nuclear bombs" given the current climate of international politics.

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Labour party gears up for leadership battle

    Paul Hackett / Reuters

    Following the events of Tuesday night, when Labour's national executive committee (NEC) said Jeremy Corbyn would automatically appear on the leadership ballot, the party faces yet another turbulent day.

    Owen Smith is expected to announce his candidacy for the leadership today, joining former shadow secretary for business, innovation, and skills Angela Eagle in opposing Corbyn. Smith, the MP for Pontypridd and former work and pensions shadow minister, has been touted for some time as a possible contender.

    However, he had refrained from explicitly announcing his bid, instead telling the BBC on Monday he would do "whatever it takes to stop our party being destroyed". He is expected to formally announce once he has spoken to his constituents on Wednesday.

    Confirmed: Owen Smith MP will also run for the Labour leadership - he will discuss with constituents today before formally launching bid

    Labour members who have been registered with the party for less than six months will be unable to vote in the upcoming leadership contest.

    Any members who signed up after 12 January will be excluded from the vote, the NEC said last night. The decision is thought to be a blow for Corbyn, whose supporters have claimed that as many as 100,000 new members have joined the party since January.

    Unless these members can stump up the £25 for the "registered supporter" fee, they will not have a say in the leadership of the party they joined.

    The window to sign up will be open for just two days next week, according to the NEC. The date of the leadership election is yet to be announced.

    Finally, Angela Eagle has appeared on Newsnight and condemned Corbyn, telling the programme he "cannot lead in parliament".

    BBC Newsnight

    "I tried to serve until it was impossible to carry on," she said of her period as Corbyn's shadow secretary for business, innovation, and skills.

    "I think you need someone who actually reaches out to voters. Jeremy talks to people who don't really believe in parliamentary democracy. He is a protester, he is not a persuader of people."

    Eagle continued: "We need someone else to take it forward."

    She added: "I have tried to work with Jeremy for nine months. He has lost the confidence of his parliamentary colleagues, and cannot lead in parliament. He is also failing to lead on the doorstep, because he is not communicating or connecting with the 9 million people who voted Labour in the last election."

    Addressing the accusations of "bullying" by Corbyn supporters, she said: "Jeremy Corbyn needs to condemn it and stop it happening."

    Finally, Eagle urged Labour party supporters to register and pay £25 to vote in the upcoming leadership election: "Join us in this battle, let us win the Labour Party back."

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    Jeremy Corbyn Wins Battle To Be On Labour Leadership Ballot

    Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

    Jeremy Corbyn will automatically be on the ballot in the upcoming Labour leadership election, after winning a bruising internal battle over an interpretation of the party's rulebook.

    The Labour leader, who has lost the support of almost all of his party's MPs, faced an attempt to keep him out of the contest by anti-Corbyn factions in the party.

    However, following a six-hour meeting of the Labour NEC – the committee of politicians, trade unionists, and other Labour officials who ultimately run the party – his automatic inclusion in the ballot was voted through by a margin of 18–14 on Tuesday evening.

    Following the vote, a Labour spokesperson said:

    The NEC has agreed that as the incumbent Leader Jeremy Corbyn will go forward onto the ballot without requiring nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the European Parliamentary Labour Party. All other Leadership candidates will require nominations from 20% of the PLP and EPLP.

    The result was greeted by cheers from the crowds who had gathered to support Corbyn.

    Massive cheers here outside Labour HQ when result announced from a few dozen Corbyn supporters gathered to await result.

    The ruling means Eagle and Corbyn will face one another to secure leadership of the Labour party. Corbyn, who spoke briefly after the vote, thanked the enthusiastic crowds who had gathered.

    "We will be campaigning on all the things that matter," he said. "The inequality and poverty that exists in this country, the need to end the privatisation of our national health service, the need to give real hope and opportunity all across this country. That's what Labour exists for."

    Corbyn said he "would hope" there would not be a legal challenge to the decision, especially given that there had already been "very long legal discussions" that afternoon.

    Corbyn pledges this summer's Labour leadership election will "strengthen our party".

    Jeremy Corbyn speaks after it was announced that he will automatically be on the ballot paper #SkyNewsTonight

    Meanwhile, Eagle told The Guardian: "I am glad the NEC has come to a decision. I welcome the contest ahead and I am determined to win it."

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Theresa May has told Conservative party staff it's "an honour to be the new leader"

    Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images

    Theresa May spoke to staff at Conservative HQ on Tuesday evening, telling them it was "an honour and a privilege to be the new leader of this great party".

    Paying tribute to David Cameron as a "superb leader of our party and a superb prime minister", she thanked staff for their "crucial" work.

    "Now more than ever, we need to work together, to deliver on Brexit, to build a country that works for everyone, and to truly unite our party and our country," she said.

    And she warned: "The Labour party brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy and we can never let them do it again. Whether it's led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, or Jeremy Corbyn, when Labour prospers the country suffers. So let's make sure they don't prosper. Let us redouble our efforts.

    "And let us make sure we put this time to good use, to build the support we need to go to the country in four years' time, and not just win, but win big." Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

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    Angela Eagle's Labour leadership campaign company was founded by Anthony Watson, a former Nike executive who splits his time between Los Angeles and London.

    The company, Angela Eagle Campaign Ltd, was officially registered by Watson on Monday, the day Eagle launched her bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

    Watson, who will be serving as campaign treasurer, worked until recently as global chief information officer at the sportswear giant. An LGBT rights campaigner, he has also been a managing director at Barclays bank and is currently chief executive of Uphold, which was founded as a bitcoin trading business.

    A spokesperson for Eagle said he would soon be joined as co-directors of the organisation that will run her campaign by veteran organiser Alan Barnard and Linda Riley, who runs media businesses with an LGBT focus.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    Jeremy Corbyn has arrived at the NEC meeting to determine whether he will appear on the ballot opposite challenger Angela Eagle

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

    The Labour leader cancelled an appearance in Brighton to appear before the party's national executive committee (NEC), which will decide if he should appear automatically on the leadership ballot.

    A leadership contest was finally triggered yesterday when former shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle announced she was standing for the position.

    There is debate over whether Corbyn will automatically be on the ballot as the incumbent leader. Party rules state any candidate must have received the nomination from 51 MPs or MEPs in order to appear on the voting slip.

    Corbyn seemed remarkably cheerful as arrived for NEC

    While Eagle has achieved that, there is speculation that Corbyn is unable to muster the same level of support. Two weeks ago he lost a motion of no confidence from his own party, and was supported by only 40 MPs.

    Corbyn and his supporters, among them the influential trade union leaders, have insisted that as the current leader he has a right to appear on the ballot. Unite, one of the biggest trade unions in the country, this morning put out a statement claiming that should Corbyn not appear on the ballot the election would be a "sordid fix".

    Labour's Deputy Tom Watson arrives for meeting to decide whether Corbyn needs MP backers to contest leadership #lab

    Both sides have called on experts in expectation of a big fight.

    "It simply wouldn't be correct to say one candidate doesn't need to meet a test and another does," Ray Collins, former general secretary of the party between 2008 and 2011, said of the seemingly contested rules.

    He continued that "all of those candidates should meet the same test of eligibility". Collins told the World at One that it was a "fundamental principle" that candidates achieved the 51 nominations in order to demonstrate they commanded the majority of the support of the Labour party.

    "The rules of the Labour party cannot be changed to meet the circumstances," he said.

    But Martin Howe, a lawyer hired by Unite, contested Collins on the same programme. He said the rules stipulated only that challengers was required to drum up the same 20% (or 51 MEPs or MPs). Howe went on to say the rules were "carefully drafted and crystal-clear" on his point.

    "On any plain literal interpretation of that clause it is clear the incumbent leader automatically goes on to the ballot," he said.

    35 minutes into Labour NEC & I'm told members still haven't been given party's legal advice on whether Corbyn can stand without nominations

    The NEC meeting, which started at 2pm, is expected to go on for four hours.

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    Picture: Liverpool Echo
    Liverpool Echo

    A large object was thrown through Angela Eagle's constituency office in Wallasey on the same day that she formally launched a leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP's office has confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

    BuzzFeed News also understands that staff in her Merseyside constituency office have stopped picking up the phone after receiving high levels of abuse following her announcement.

    Eagle also received at least one abusive voicemail message, which called a "fucking bitch", to her Westminster office, according to a Daily Telegraph correspondent.

    Senior caseworker in Angela Eagle's office pleads with people threatening staff: "Please leave us alone."

    Some of her fellow Labour MPs condemned events.

    Angela Eagle's office window bricked.Barriers erected outside Labour HQ in prep for intimidation of NEC by demonstrators.Labour under Corbyn

    Corbyn later "utterly condemned" the act, and called it "extremely concerning".

    The full statement from the Labour leader's office reads:

    It is extremely concerning that Angela Eagle has been the victim of a threatening act and that other MPs are receiving abuse and threats. As someone who has also received death threats this week and previously, I am calling on all Labour Party members and supporters to act with calm and treat each other with respect and dignity, even where there is disagreement.

    I utterly condemn any violence or threats, which undermine the democracy with our party and have no place in our politics.

    Political reporter Siraj Datoo reports.

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    Cameron has chaired his final cabinet meeting

    Chris J Ratcliffe / AFP / Getty Images

    David Cameron entered his 215th and final cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning to a "round of banging on the table from his colleagues", his spokeswoman said.

    The mood was "warm and reflective" as ministers looked back at Cameron's six-year record as PM – and there were no tears, she told a regular briefing of journalists.

    Both home secretary Theresa May, who is set to become the next PM on Wednesday, and chancellor George Osborne made "poignant" tributes to Cameron during the hour-long meeting.

    Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb gave an update to colleagues on the government's "life chances strategy", which Cameron said May would now take forward.

    And defence secretary Michael Fallon spoke about the Trident nuclear deterrent, ahead of a key Commons debate and vote on Monday, with cabinet ministers agreeing it was the "ultimate insurance" against threats to Britain.

    Cameron said one of his most vivid memories as PM was being winched into a submarine during a visit to the west coast of Scotland.

    Turning to his successor, he said May would receive the "support and friendship he had received in his role as prime minister". He praised her as the right person to lead the country "through the difficult times ahead".

    Osborne praised Cameron's achievements, specifically on same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage. In total there were four rounds of banging on the table during the cabinet meeting.

    The PM's spokeswoman confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Larry the cat would remain in Downing Street after Cameron leaves office on Wednesday.

    Senior political correspondent Emily Ashton reports.

    Following the meeting, May stayed a short while longer than other attending cabinet ministers, and appeared to have a spot of bother deciding whether to head right or left on leaving Number 10.

    Theresa May leaves Number 10, walks to the wrong car and takes time to give a wave from the doorstep.

    May has indicated that there will not be an early general election. The news was filtered through defence minister Michael Fallon, an ally of May, who told reporters: "No, we had an election just a year ago for a full five-year parliament and we are only a year into that.

    "More importantly we had this European vote just a couple of weeks ago. That is the instruction the British people to get Britain out of the European Union and we have got to make a success of that," he added, echoing May's short address to MPs and reporters last night.

    Inside his final cabinet meeting, Cameron told ministers it had been a "pleasure and privilege" to lead the country for six years. He was praised by the incoming leader, who said he was a man who "always put the country first," the Evening Standard reported.

    Meanwhile, removal vans have been pictured pulling up outside Number 10.

    Philip Toscano / PA WIRE
    Philip Toscano / PA WIRE

    Cameron and his family are expected to be out of the prime minister's official residence by Wednesday.

    Spotted at Downing Street - a removals man.

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    Unite union backs Jeremy Corbyn ahead of NEC meeting

    Jack Taylor / Getty Images

    The beleaguered Labour leader, who lost a motion of no confidence from a majority of Labour MPs more than two weeks ago, has continued to refuse to stand down. Corbyn says he still has the support of the grassroots of the party.

    Prominent Labour MP Angela Eagle, once a member of Corbyn's shadow cabinet, announced her bid for the leadership on Monday, triggering a leadership contest. However, it remains unclear whether Corbyn's name will automatically appear on the party's ballot – or if he will require the nominations of 51 MPs or MEPs to be eligible. He mustered the support of just 40 MPs during the motion of no confidence.

    In a statement, Unite said there was an "overwhelming argument" for Corbyn to appear on the ballot.

    It described an election without Corbyn as a "sordid fix and alien to the traditions of the Labour movement".

    "To do anything else would leave a stain on party unity that might prove permanent," the statement added.

    The strong show of support for the Labour leader comes the morning after a YouGov poll appeared to show Corbyn's popularity among grassroots trade union members was fading. The poll surveyed more than 1,200 members of Unite, the GMB, Unison, USDAW, and the CWU.

    It found that on average 63%, or two-thirds, of those surveyed felt Corbyn was "doing badly". Only 33% said he was "doing well".

    Prior to Unite releasing its statement, the union's leader, Len McCluskey, disregarded the results of the YouGov poll. "These kinds of polls can be twisted and interpreted in many different ways," he told the BBC's Today programme on Tuesday morning.

    The party's national executive committee will meet at 2pm today to decide whether there is a legal ruling (or indication) regarding Corbyn's appearance on the ballot paper.

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    Future PM Theresa May arrives at Number 10 for David Cameron's final cabinet meeting

    Peter Nicholls / Reuters

    May will become the country's new PM on Wednesday, after her rival Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the race unexpectedly. In a day of dramatic political upheaval, the Conservative party moved swiftly to announce May as leader on Monday, and David Cameron announced he would leave Downing Street within two days.

    Cameron chairs his final cabinet meeting at 9.30am today. Earlier this morning, cabinet ministers – among them business secretary Sajid Javid, defence secretary Michael Fallon, and health secretary Jeremy Hunt – arrived. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was also in attendance.

    Tomorrow, Cameron will face his final Prime Minister's Questions before he departs Number 10 to make way for May.

    Theresa May arrives - poses for a photo outside her new front door.

    Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE
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    In her first statement since winning the Conservative leadership, Theresa May very briefly set out her plan for the country she will lead come Wednesday evening.

    May said she was "humbled and honoured" by the decision to entrust her with the leadership, and took a moment to praise former rival Andrea Leadsom, who withdrew from the race at the last minute on Monday, for her "dignity" and pay tribute to David Cameron's premiership.

    "During this campaign my case has been based on three things," she told reporters. "First, the case for strong, proven leadership to steer us through what will be difficult and uncertain economic and politic times. The need to negotiate the best deal for Britain in leaving the EU, and to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

    "Brexit means Brexit. And we're going to make a success of it.

    "Second, we need to unite our country, and third we need a strong, new, positive vision for the future of our country. A vision for a country that works not for the privileged few but that works for every one of us. Because we're going to give people more control over their lives.

    "And that's how, together, we will build a better Britain," she told an enthusiastic crowd before heading back indoors after the very brief statement in front of the House of Commons, on St Stephen's church steps.

    May had just addressed an enthusiastic crowd of Conservative MPs in Westminister before emerging to speak to reporters.

    Shortly before her statement, May was formally elected leader of the Tory party with "immediate effect" by the backbench 1922 committee.

    1922 committee chairman Graham Brady. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

    The floor is vibrating as Tory MPs clap and cheer Theresa May, who is addressing them behind closed doors in parliament #ToryLeadership

    Theresa May says "Brexit means Brexit, and we're going to make a success of it" following selection as Tory leader

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    David Cameron: New PM by Wednesday evening

    Chris J Ratcliffe / AFP / Getty Images

    David Cameron has said the country will have a new prime minister by Wednesday evening in a short statement to reporters outside Number 10.

    The PM has spoken to Theresa May and congratulated her on her victory in the Tory leadership election, and described her as strong and "competent".

    He said he would chair his last cabinet meeting on Tuesday and hold his final Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday before departing office after six years.

    Cameron confirms Theresa May "will be the next prime minister". She will "have my full support."

    His statement in full:

    We're not going to have a prolonged Conservative leadership election campaign. I think Andrea Leadsom has made absolutely the right decision to stand aside and it's clear Theresa May has the overwhelming support of the Conservative parliamentary party.

    I'm also delighted that Theresa May will be the next Prime Minister. She is strong, she is competent, she's more than able to provide the leadership that our country is going to need in the years ahead and she will have my full support.

    Obviously with these changes, we now don't need to have a prolonged period of transition, and so tomorrow I will chair my last Cabinet meeting, on Wednesday I will attend the House of Commons for Prime Minister's Questions, and then after that I expect to go to the Palace to offer my resignation so we'll have a new Prime Minister in that building behind me by Wednesday evening.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    George Osborne has said Theresa May should be moved into the position of PM in the "next few days"

    Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

    The chancellor of the exchequer was scheduled to appear on the US talk show Morning Joe ahead of Leadsom's dramatic withdrawal from the leadership race.

    Asked about the political situation in the UK, Osborne gave his unequivocal support for May. "She is now the overwhelming choice to be our country's prime minister," he told the MSNBC host. "I have worked with her for six years. She's got the steel, the determination to do the job."

    He continued: "The economy doesn't need uncertainty, it needs certainty. So I think now, in the next few days, we should move to put her in the position of prime minister so she can lead the country, provide unity, and provide that direction."

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    As soon as Andrea Leadsom announced her decision to withdraw from the Conservative leadership race, the markets reacted positively and the pound rose against the US dollar. Housebuilding companies, in particular, saw their shares rise, with investors pleased to see that there will no longer be uncertainty over who will lead the country until September – the original deadline announced by the Tory party after David Cameron resigned.

    Sterling now up 1.5 cents versus dollar in wake of Andrea Leadsom withdrawal

    Business editor Simon Neville reports.

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    Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, confirms eliminated candidates cannot run

    Matt Crossick

    Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, told the BBC's World at One that the committee's membership needed to agree on the "single" candidate.

    He said he hoped he would be able to make a final announcement regarding the leadership soon. Finally, he ruled out any chance that justice minister Michael Gove – who was eliminated in the second round of MPs voting for the leadership race – would be able to stake any claim to the leadership.

    Should the committee agree on May's candidacy for the leadership, she could be PM by tomorrow at the very earliest. This would require her meeting the Queen, who is currently believed to be in Norfolk, according to the BBC's royal correspondent.

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    Eagle, who had threatened to run against beleaguered Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before, formally announced her leadership bid at noon today – just 15 minutes before Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the Tory leadership race.

    In an attempt to ensure the event got at least some coverage, Eagle's aides decided to start a few minutes early.

    But they were already too late: Many of the journalists in the room had already left to rush to the Leadsom statement, resulting in this excruciating moment.

    Her pitch to a room filled with supportive Labour MPs was that Jeremy Corbyn has no chance of winning a general election and she is the candidate to unite the party.

    Eagle told the audience: "I'm not a Blairite. I'm not a Brownite. I'm not a Corbynista. I am my own woman – a strong Labour woman.

    "I will unite, I will not divide. I can bring our party together again."

    LABOUR LEADERSHIP ELECTION OFFICIALLY ON: Angela Eagle has now received the required number of nominations.

    Jon Trickett MP, Labour's election co-ordinator, released a statement shortly after Leadsom announced, saying: "It now looks likely that we are about to have the coronation of a new Conservative Prime Minister.

    "It is crucial, given the instability caused by the Brexit vote, that the country has a democratically elected Prime Minister. I am now putting the whole of the party on a General Election footing. It is time for the Labour Party to unite and ensure the millions of people in the country left behind by the Tories' failed economic policies, have the opportunity to elect a Labour government".

    Iain McNicol, Labour's general secretary, confirmed in an email to The Guardian that there would now be a leadership contest as he had received the necessary nominations to trigger the process.

    This is the text he provided to The Guardian:

    I have now received sufficient nominations to trigger a contest for the position of Leader of the Labour party.

    I will now ask the chair of the national executive committee to convene a meeting to confirm arrangements for an election.

    Political editor Jim Waterson reports.

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    The leader of the Liberal Democrats has called for a general election

    Geoff Caddick / AFP / Getty Images

    Tim Farron, who says his party has enjoyed a burst of popularity following the decision to vote Brexit and the chaos engulfing the two main political parties, said the Conservatives had "no mandate".

    With @TheresaMay2016's coronation we need an early General Election. The Tories now have no mandate. Britain deserves better than this.

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    Conservative MPs have reacted to the news of Leadsom's retirement from the race

    Daniel Leal-olivas / AFP / Getty Images

    Boris Johnson, who had been the frontrunner for the leadership just weeks ago, expressed his support for May.

    1/3 Theresa May has the authority & the leadership necessary to unite the Conservative Party & the country.

    In a full statement he said:

    Theresa May will provide the authority and the leadership necessary to unite the Conservative party and take the country forward in the coming weeks and months.

    Andrea's decision, which is both brave and principled, allows that process to begin immediately.

    I have no doubt Theresa will make an excellent party leader and prime minister and I'm encouraged that she's made it clear that Brexit means Brexit – that we will leave the EU. It is vital that we respect the will of the people and get on with exploiting new opportunities for this country.

    Other Conservative MPs called on the next prime minister to appoint Leadsom to the cabinet.

    Very statesman like from @andrealeadsom what the country needs now is Leadership. Look forward to seeing her in the Cabinet.

    Very decent and generous statement from Andrea Leadsom. A gracious and dignified decision in the interest of the party and the country.

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    Chris Grayling, May's campaign chief, said she was "enormously honoured to have been entrusted with this task"

    "Theresa May is enormously honoured to have been entrusted with this task," Grayling told reporters. He paid tribute to Leadsom and said that her decision to withdraw was a sign she was a "true public servant".

    The home secretary, who was speaking in Birmingham this morning, is understood to be travelling back to London where she will address reporters later this afternoon.

    Grayling: Theresa May is “enormously honoured to have been entrusted with this task by so many of her colleagues”

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    Graham Brady, chair of the influential Conservative 1922 Committee, has said May needs to be "formally confirmed" as Tory leader

    Brady stopped short of confirming that May was now the new Conservative leader, instead telling reporters that as she was the only remaining Tory candidate he would have to consult.

    "We're not discussing coronations, we're discussing a proper procedural process," he told reporters. "There will be conversations during the course of the afternoon."

    But in response to questions, he confirmed that the leadership race would not be reopened.

    Graham Brady says only have to "formally confirm" Theresa May as new leader and prime minister. Could be v quick

    Meanwhile, justice secretary Michael Gove has confirmed he will support May.

    In a statement released shortly after Leadsom's announcement, the former contender for the leadership, said:

    Andrea Leadsom spoke with great dignity and courage today. I wish her every success in the future. We should now move as quickly as possible to ensure that Theresa May takes over as leader.

    She has my full support as our next prime minister.

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    Andrea Leadsom has quit the Tory leadership race

    Jack Taylor / Getty Images

    The energy minister's decision to retire from the race leaves home secretary Theresa May as the last standing candidate. The rules governing the Conservative race are unclear as to what happens next, but it appears the home secretary could become the UK's next PM in days.

    "I have ... decided to withdraw from the leadership campaign, and have assured Theresa of my full support," Leadsom said in London. She said she would have been "deeply honoured" to run but that nine weeks of campaigning would not be in the "interests" of the UK.

    Leadsom said that with only 25% of Conservative MPs' support, should she have triumphed with the grassroots of the party – who were voting in the next round – she would have been unable to form a strong government.

    Leadsom supporter Stewart Jackson MP told reporters after her announcement that: "It was a big surprise, I found out at the team meeting at 11. She's a good decent woman and felt that she wasn't the right person to unite the party."

    "Don't believe I have sufficient support" -@andrealeadsom pulls out of #ToryLeadership race

    This is her statement in full:

    The best interests of our country inspired me to stand for the leadership, I believe that in leaving the EU a bright future awaits where all our people can share in a new prosperity, freedom and democracy. The referendum result demonstrated a clear desire for change, strong leadership is needed urgently to begin the work of withdrawing from the EU

    A nine week leadership campaign art such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable – business needs certainty. A strong and unified government must move quickly to set out what an independent UK's framework for business looks like. It is also essential that current EU workers in the UK and businesses that employ them know where they stand.

    The Conservative party was elected only last year with a strong manifesto, we now need a new prime minister in place as soon as possible, committed to fulfilling that manifesto as well as implementing the clear instruction from the referendum.

    Theresa May carries over 60% of support from the parliamentary party, she is ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people and she has promised she will do so.

    For me personally to have won the support of 84 of my colleagues last Thursday was a great expression of confidence for which I am incredibly grateful. Nevertheless this is less than 25% of the parliamentary party and after careful consideration I do not believe this is sufficient support to win a strong and stable government should I win the leadership election

    I have however concluded that the interests of our country are best served by the immediate appointment of a strong and well-supported Prime Minister – I am therefore withdrawing from the leadership election and I wish Theresa May the very greatest of success. I assure her of my full support.

    Later that afternoon Leadsom thanked supporters.

    So grateful for all the support - I do believe my decision is in the best interests of the country and our economy & I wish Theresa success!