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Boris Johnson’s premiership is on the brink of collapse after he received a string of resignations, including from the chancellor, the health secretary and a number of Conservative ministers and aides.
Here is a list of the resignations.
Sunak was long known to have had tensions with the prime minister over the direction of economic policy, arguing for measures to bear down on inflation while Johnson wanted immediate tax cuts. He resigned citing differences of opinion over the economy, but also saying: “The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.”
Sunak will now be considered a future leadership contender, with his decision to walk out perhaps winning him back some credibility with colleagues after the furore over his wife’s non-dom tax status. He has been close to walking out on several occasions in the past but had appeared to be trying to make things work, with a joint economic speech pencilled in for the coming weeks.
However, his patience ran out after the latest scandal – the handling of the Chris Pincher affair. As chancellor, he was known for the furlough scheme and quick action to prop up businesses during the pandemic. His low points have been getting a fine over attending the prime minister’s birthday party in lockdown and the criticism over his own and his wife’s tax affairs.
The former chancellor walked out once before over his differences with Boris Johnson, only to be replaced by Sunak. This time he was the first to trigger a walkout, calling Johnson’s competence into question. “The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and new direction,” he said. “I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.”
As health secretary, Javid has focused on trying to fix health inequalities and dealing with the Covid treatment backlog. But his resignation letter concluded he could no longer serve under Johnson. Like Sunak, he will be considered a potential leadership contender to succeed the prime minister, but, like the former chancellor, he has questions over his own former tax affairs, having admitted he was a non-dom for six years before he was an MP.
The children’s minister resigned saying he had “no choice” after he appeared on television to defend Johnson using Downing Street briefings that were not true. His letter said: “Dear prime minister. Thank you for meeting with me yesterday evening and for your sincere apology regarding the briefings I received from No 10 ahead of Monday’s media round, which we now know to be inaccurate.” The Colchester MP is facing a threat from the Lib Dems at the next election.
The solicitor general for England and Wales stepped down from his role after weeks on resignation watch. The Cheltenham MP will be defending a marginal seat against the Lib Dems. He said: “Government duty cannot extend to ‘defending the indefensible.’” Chalk wrote that the “cumulative effect of the Owen Paterson debacle, Partygate and now the handling of the former deputy chief whip’s resignation, is that public confidence in the ability of No 10 to uphold the standards of candour expected of a British government has irretrievable broken down”.
Trott is a rising star from the 2019 intake who resigned as a parliamentary aide to transport secretary, Grant Shapps. She is a former special adviser to David Cameron, and stepped down saying: “Trust in politics is – and must always be – of the utmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost”.
The vice-chair of the Conservatives in effect resigned from his position live on Talk TV, saying he had lost confidence in the prime minister and would be stepping down from his role. He said: “I think what’s been very sad over the recent allegations about the former deputy chief whip and other things that have happened over the last few weeks is that I just don’t think the PM has any longer, not just my support, but I don’t think the support of party, or indeed the country, any more … it has become clear after losing the support of two of his closest cabinet colleagues that the time has come for him to stand down.”
Gullis has been one of Johnson’s staunchest supporters in the House of Commons, but even he stepped down as a parliamentary private secretary to the Northern Ireland secretary. He said the Conservatives had been too focused on reputational damage over governing. “It is for this reason I can no longer serve as part of your government,” he said.
The parliamentary private secretary to the health secretary quit saying his conscience would not allow him to continue to support this administration. He resigned his role with a statement saying that “recent events have undermined trust and standards in public life”.
Richards, another parliamentary private secretary to the Department for Transport, quit saying: “At a time of cost of living crisis I cannot serve where the focus is ‘skewed by poor judgment’ … At a time where my constituents are worried about the cost of living and I am doing my best to support them, I cannot bring myself to serve as a PPS under the current circumstances, where the focus is skewed by poor judgment that I don’t wish to be associated with.”
Crosbie resigned as parliamentary private secretary at the Wales Office, saying Johnson’s continued premiership risked ‘“irrevocably harming this government”. She wrote that she was “forced to say the sheer number of allegations of impropriety and illegality” centred around Downing Street and Johnson’s premiership made his position untenable. “I am of the view that if you continue in office then you risk irrevocably harming this government, and the Conservative party and will hand the keys of Downing Street to a Labour party unfit to govern.”
Murrison, a former defence minister, stepped down as a trade envoy to Morocco with concerns that he could no longer defend the prime minister. He said the “last straw in the rolling chaos of the past six months” was “the unjustifiable implication of Lord McDonald’s letter to the parliamentary committee for standards this morning”.
“Others must square, as best they can, their continuing enjoyment of your patronage with their personal sense of decency, honour and integrity but I no longer can,” he added.
Another 2019 MP, who is a niece of Jacob Rees-Mogg, was a trade envoy to Kenya and stepped down from that role citing concerns over how sexual harassment allegations were handled. “As one of the party’s new female MPs and a member of the women and equalities select committee, I take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously,” she said. “To learn that you chose to elevate a colleague to a position of pastoral care for MPs, whilst in full knowledge of his own wrongdoing, shows a severe lack of judgment and care for your parliamentary party. I was shocked to see colleagues defending the government with assurances that have turned out to be false.”
The schools minister resigned saying the government had been “overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity”.
In his resignation letter, he said: “Recent events have made it clear to me that our great party, for which I have campaigned all of my adult life, has become distracted from its core missions by a relentless focus on questions over leadership.”
He said the loss of Sunak and Javid reflected “a worrying narrowing of the broad church that I believe any Conservative government should seek to achieve”.
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