Watch: 'Enough is enough', says Sajid Javid as he calls on ministers to oust Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson was hit by a slew of new resignations on Thursday morning as the number of MPs deserting his government in a remarkable 36 hours topped 50.
The northern Ireland secretary and previously loyal Johnson supporter Brandon Lewis, science minister George Freeman, security minister Damian Hinds and treasury minister Helen Whately were the latest to say enough is enough and call on the prime minister to resign.
The PM's attempts to cling on to power also drew comparisons with Donald Trump. Conservative MP Julian Smith condemned Johnson's insistence that he has a personal mandate to lead the country after his historic election victory two years ago.
Smith said he was “holding out in a Trumpian style” in a worrying fashion, adding: "This morning he should not be in Downing Street".
The latest developments come the morning after an extraordinary day that culminated with the prime minister sacking Michael Gove and saying he was planning to rebuild the government as it crumbled around him.
Gove’s removal as levelling up secretary was the clearest reflection of Johnson’s determination to fight for his political future.
He is believed to have told colleagues that there would be “chaos” if he quits the party.
So many MPs quit their posts as ministers and aides throughout Wednesday that it was hard to keep track of the numbers. By the end of the day, more than 40 MPs had quit what increasingly appeared to be a sinking ship.
That sense was only strengthened amid reports that a Cabinet delegation believed to contain senior figures including Nadhim Zahawi - promoted to chancellor just 24 hours earlier - Brandon Lewis and the ultra-loyal Grant Shapps had confronted Johnson and urged him to quit.
Priti Patel, one of Johnson’s most loyal allies, was also thought to have told him his time was up.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee, was also said to be in Downing Street communicating the views of backbenchers following a meeting in parliament that was dominated by MPs calling for Johnson to go.
Johnson fights back
But despite his authority draining away by the hour, it is now clear that Johnson has rejected suggestions he should seek a “more dignified exit” and intends to battle on to the bitter end.
Gove is thought to have told the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning that it was time for him to quit. Instead, No 10 confirmed that the levelling up secretary had been sacked by the PM.
A No 10 source told the BBC: “You cannot have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully briefs the press that he has called for the leader to go."
James Duddridge, a parliamentary private secretary to the Prime Minister, reiterated that the PM is "buoyant" and “up for a fight”.
“He knows it is going to be difficult, but he asked me to leave him at Downing Street, come over here, tell members of parliament he has listened, that he is up for a fight, he is going to make some changes, he is going to make some Cabinet appointments today.”
What happens next
The immediate focus will fall on the Cabinet. So far most of Johnson’s top team remain in their positions.
Mass resignations by the Cabinet – accompanied by more quitting in the lower echelons – could be enough to force his hand if it leaves him unable to form a functioning government.
However there are no guarantees this will happen, particularly if Johnson is determined to carry on with a depleted administration.
If that happens, it goes back to Conservative MPs if they want to make a fresh push to oust him.
Read more below:
Here's what happens if Boris Johnson refuses to quit (Yahoo News UK)
Runners and riders that could replace Johnson (Telegraph)
What is a vote of no confidence? (Evening Standard)
Johnson Sacks 'Snake' Gove From Cabinet (HuffPost)
Buckingham Palace 'plans to block snap election' (Yahoo News UK)
Here is the list of MPs who quit on Thursday as at 8.15am.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the Government requires “honesty, integrity and mutual respect”.
Treasury minister Helen Whately told Johnson there “are only so many times you can apologise and move on”.
Security minister Damian Hinds said: “It shouldn’t take the resignation of dozens of colleagues, but for our country, and trust in our democracy, we must have a change of leadership.”
Science minister George Freeman warned "the chaos in your Cabinet and No 10 this month is destroying our credibility".
Pensions minister Guy Opperman said “recent events have shown clearly that the Government simply cannot function with you in charge”.
Technology minister Chris Philp resigned, saying the “PM should step down given public and Parliamentary confidence has clearly gone, and given the importance of integrity in public life”.
Courts’ minister James Cartlidge said: “The position is clearly untenable.”
And below is the list of MPs who quit since 6pm on Tuesday - and what some of them said about Johnson
Sajid Javid, health secretary
Javid was the first to resign on Tuesday at 6pm. He said the British people “expect integrity from their government” but voters now believed Johnson’s administration was neither competent nor “acting in the national interest”.
Rishi Sunak, chancellor
Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor shortly after Javid, saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.
He added: “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
Simon Hart, Welsh secretary
In his letter to Johnson, Hart said: "I have never been a massive fan of Ministerial resignations being the best means of forcing change. Colleagues have done their utmost in private and public to help you turn the ship around, but it is with sadness that I feel we have passed the point where this is possible."
Victoria Atkins, justice minister
Victoria Atkins resigned as justice minister with a letter telling Johnson, saying: "Values such as integrity, decency, respect and professionalism should matter to us all."
Atkins added: "The casual mistreatment of minister Will Quince and the revelations contained in Lord McDonald's letter highlight just how far your government has fallen from these ideals."
Jo Churchill, environment minister
Jo Churchill also cited Johnson's behaviour as a reason for her resignation as environment minister, writing: "Recent events have shown integrity, competence, and judgement are all essential to the role of prime minister, while a jocular self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations."
Stuart Andrew, housing minister
Housing minister Stuart Andrew quit just after PMQs, saying “our party, particularly our members and more importantly our great country, deserve better”. He added: "Having a marginal seat I have seen the huge sacrifice our members make in volunteering considerable hours to campaign on our behalf and I cannot, in all good conscience, tolerate them having to defend the indefensible."
Kemi Badenoch, Julia Lopez, Lee Rowley, Alex Burghart and Neil O'Brien
Five ministers – Kemi Badenoch, Julia Lopez, Lee Rowley, Alex Burghart and Neil O'Brien – announced their resignation in a joint letter, saying it had become "increasingly clear that the government cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled".
Bim Afolami, Conservative Party vice chairman
Bim Afolami quit his position as party vice chairman on live TV, saying: “(After) recent allegations about the former deputy chief whip and other things that have happened over recent weeks, I just don’t think the prime minister any longer has, not just my support, but he doesn’t have, I don’t think, the support of the party, or indeed the country any more."
Mims Davies, employment minister
Employment minister Mims Davies quit saying that she had become "increasingly concerned about your premiership, those around you and our great party's direction and what we truly stand for".
She added that the government's work was being "overshadowed by what has unfolded from the heart of government in Downing Street".
Will Quince, education minister
On Monday, Will Quince was sent out on the morning media rounds to defend Johnson. On Tuesday, Quince said he had “no choice” to leave after he appeared on television using Downing Street briefings “which have now been found to be inaccurate”.
Andrew Murrison, trade envoy to Morocco
Andrew Murrison said the Pincher scandal was the “last straw in the rolling chaos of the past six months” as he resigned from his role as trade envoy to Morocco. He told the PM: "Your position has become unrecoverable. I strongly urge you to resign.”
David Duguid, trade envoy to Angola and Zambia
Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid has resigned as a trade envoy.
In a statement, he said: “In light of recent events, I believe the Prime Minister’s position is now untenable.
“Having indicated my concerns internally earlier this week, it is my intention to stand down from my position as Fisheries Envoy and Trade Envoy for Angola and Zambia.”
Watch: Boris Johnson says Chris Pincher's appointment was a "mistake"
Theo Clarke, trade envoy to Kenya
Theo Clarke told Johnson in his resignation letter he showed a “severe lack of judgment” over appointing Pincher as deputy chief whip. She wrote: “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. 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."
David Mundell, trade envoy to New Zealand
The MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale has quit as UK Trade Envoy to New Zealand after he said he was “disappointed” Boris Johnson had not already stood down.
David Mundell tweeted: “I am very disappointed that the Prime Minister has not listened to the counsel of colleagues and stood down voluntarily in the interests of the country.
“Earlier this week I wrote to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee confirming I had no confidence in the Prime Minister and asking that a further vote of confidence be held. I hope this can now take place as a matter of urgency.
“Clearly such views are not compatible with holding a Government role and accordingly I have stood down as UK Trade Envoy to New Zealand.”
Alex Chalk, solicitor general
Alex Chalk called for "fresh leadership" as he handed in his resignation. He wrote: “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 Number 10 to uphold the standards of candour expected of a British Government has irretrievably broken down. I regret that I share that judgement."
Robin Walker, schools minister
Robin Walker resigned as schools minister and said the government has been “overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity”. He cited the exit of Sunak and Javid – who he described as "two of our brightest talents" – as something which "reflects a worrying narrowing of the broad church that I believe any Conservative government should seek to achieve".
John Glen, Treasury minister
John Glen quit as Treasury minister, saying that he could "no longer coconcile my commitment to the role and to the financial services sector with the complete lack of confidence I have in your continuing leadership of our country".
Rachel Maclean, Home Office minister
In her letter resigning as minister for safeguarding, Tory MP for Redditch Rachel Maclean said recent events demonstrate that while the Prime Minister remains in office the “woefully low rate of prosecutions for sexual offences” will not improve.
She added: "I have regretfully concluded that recent events demonstrate that while you remain in office, it will not be possible to make progress with this vitally important task.
"The victims of sexual harassment I work with tell me that every single time the biggest obstacle they face in coming forward to tell their heartbreaking and traumatic stories is that they fear they will not be believed, or that the system will cover up for the perpetrator."
Mike Freer, Equalities minister
Mike Freer has quit as minister for exports and minister for equalities, telling Boris Johnson “I can no longer defend policies I fundamentally disagree with”.
Edward Argar, Health minister
"I believe, with regret, that it is now time to consider the future and the “big call” of how we face that future with integrity and in that context I fear that change is needed."
The following MPs have also quit as parliamentary private secretaries (PPS), a junior ministerial role
- Saqib Bhatti, PPS to the PM
- Jonathan Gullis, PPS to the Northern Ireland secretary
- Nicola Richards, PPS to the transport secretary
- Virginia Crosbie, PPS at the Wales Office
- Laura Trott, PPS to the transport secretary
- Felicity Buchan, PPS in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- Claire Coutinho, PPS to the Treasury
- Selaine Saxby, PPS in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- David Johnston, PPS in the Department of Education
- Duncan Baker, PPS in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
- Craig Williams, PPS to the Treasury
- Mark Logan, PPS to the Northern Ireland Office
- Sara Britcliffe, PPS in the Department for Education
- Mark Fletcher, PPS in the Department Business
- Peter Gibson, PPS to secretary of state for international trade
- Ruth Edwards, PPS to the Scottish secretary
- Jacob Young , PPS in the Department for Housing
- James Sunderland, PPS in Environment Department
- James Daly, PPS in the Department for Work and Pensions
-Danny Kruger, PPS in the Department for Levelling Up