Theresa May: why did former PM not clap for Boris Johnson at PMQs, and who is she backing for Tory leadership?

Theresa May did not join her fellow Tories in applauding the outgoing Prime Minister

Former prime minister Theresa May refused to clap for Boris Johnson as Tory MPs gave him a standing ovation at the end of his final PMQs.

Ms May did not join her fellow Tories in applauding the outgoing Prime Minister, who concluded his appearance with “hasta la vista, baby.”

Footage showed the former PM reluctantly standing up - after other members of the Conservative Party led the way - and cross her arms as Mr Johnson left the House of Commons.

So why did Ms May refuse to clap for him, what has the reaction been and who is she backing in the Tory leadership contest?

Ms May and Mr Johnson have clashed frequently over the past few years

Why did Theresa May not clap for Boris Johnson?

Ms May and her successor Mr Johnson have a fraught relationship, frequently clashing over Brexit during the former’s time in office.

Mr Johnson, a staunch Brexiteer, resigned as Foreign Secretary during Ms May’s time as Prime Minister.

He claimed in his resignation letter that the UK was headed for “the status of a colony” if Ms May’s “soft Brexit plans” were adopted.

Recently, Ms May has made it clear that she did not approve of Mr Johnson’s actions during ‘Partygate’.

The Maidenhead MP said Covid-19 regulations had placed severe restrictions on the public who “had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, understand the meaning of the rules, and set an example by following those rules.”

She continued to the House: “What the [Sue] Gray report does show is that No. 10 Downing Street was not observing the regulations they had imposed on members of the public.”

Ms May then addressed the Prime Minister directly: “So, either my right honourable friend had not read the rules, did not understand what they meant and nor did others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to No. 10.

“Which was it?”

What was the reaction?

Ms May’s actions failed to escape the notice of social media, with many giving their opinions on her decision.

Twitter user @rogerkb2012 praised Ms May, writing: “Maybe the only Tory MP with integrity in the House of Commons today.”

Others criticised the former Prime Minister, with @dannyriding25 saying that she was the “worst PM ever” while @TexanGhost said her behaviour was “shameful”.

Meanwhile, one Twitter user took aim at the other Tory MPs - arguing that many of those applauding the Prime Minister had forced him out of office a few weeks prior.

@dananagrams commented: “A lot of those clapping were the ones stabbing him in the back to get rid of him, at least she wasn’t being a hypocrite.”

Who is Ms May supporting in the Tory leadership contest?

Ms May has not publicly announced who she is supporting to become the UK’s next Prime Minister.

She does however have ties to many of the candidates - Liz Truss served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Ms May, while Rishi Sunak served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.

Ms May also worked with the now-eliminated Penny Mordaunt, who she appointed as Defence Secretary - making Ms Mordaunt the first woman to hold this position.

Mr Johnson has also not announced who he is backing, but the consensus is he will throw his support behind Ms Truss - as she was one of the few Cabinet members to not resign in the Tory party’s rebellion against the Prime Minister’s leadership.