Boris Johnson has begun filling his Cabinet posts despite being just minutes away from resigning.
Key ally James Cleverly has been appointed as the new education secretary — the third in three days — while Greg Clark, an opponent of Johnson’s over Brexit, will become the new levelling up secretary after Michael Gove was sacked.
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland will become the new Welsh secretary and policing minister Kit Malthouse has been appointed as the new chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.
Shailesh Vara will take over from Brandon Lewis following his resignation as Northern Ireland secretary.
The appointments come as Johnson prepares to stand down as Tory leader at 12.30 today.
It suggests that Johnson could defy calls from his MPs to stand down with immediate effect to allow his deputy, Dominic Raab, to take over as a caretaker prime minister.
Reports suggest that Johnson wants to stay on as prime minister until the autumn to allow a new Conservative leader to replace him.
Earlier today, Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis insisted to MPs that the government would “continue to function” despite the chaos that has ensued following a mass of resignations last night and this morning.
MPs have expressed concern about departments being unable to function in the absence of ministers.
In the department for education, only one minister, Baroness Barran, remains.
Responding to questions from Labour MPs, Ellis said: “I cannot pre-empt the prime minister’s statement.
“And the House and the nation will hear more very shortly, but government and the civil service will continue to function in the meantime.
“Other secretaries of state can deal with the issues for other departments, constitutionally and legally in necessary circumstances.”
Commons Leader Mark Spencer also hit out at Labour for “ranting” about the disruption at the heart of government.
“I think there is a very clear difference between the two sides of this despatch box,” he said.
“Now is the moment for calmness and for professionalism, not for ranting and not for over-excitement.
“We are getting on with the business of government in a calm way.
“There are some bill committees that will not run today but they will be back up and running very soon.”