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Showing the door

Tories call for end of Boris Johnson’s premiership as new Chancellor denies threatening to quit

Cabinet ministers, MPs and former Tory politicians have issued a slew of criticisms against the British prime minister.

LAST UPDATE | 6 Jul 2022

A WAVE OF UK Government exits, including Cabinet resignations, are threatening to end Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister.

Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, senior members of the government, resigned immediately yesterday after Johnson apologised for giving former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher a top job despite knowledge of a previous complaint made against him.

A cascade of more junior Tory figures also tendered resignations yesterday and made public statements about their decisions, claiming the government is incompetent and untrustworthy.

The new Chancellor installed to replace Sunak has denied claims that he threatened to resign in order to secure the position.

Former Brexit secretary David Frost called on Johnson to quit as prime minister before he takes the Conservative Party and the government “down with him”.

Frost wrote in The Daily Telegraph Johnson’s place in history will be secure as “one of the past century’s most consequential prime ministers”.

“If he leaves now, before chaos descends, that reputation is what will be remembered. If he hangs on, he risks taking the party and the government down with him,” the former Cabinet minister said.

Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, adding: “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”

“I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning,” he said.

“Our country is facing immense challenges. We both want a low-tax, high-growth economy, and world class public services, but this can only be responsibly delivered if we are prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and take difficult decisions.

I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one.

“In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.”

New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who was promoted from his education secretary role following Sunak’s resignation, has denied that he threatened to resign from the Cabinet in order to secure the role.

He told Sky News: “No, I didn’t threaten to resign at all.”

Put to him that Liz Truss was reportedly in line for Chancellor, but Zahawi said he would step down if he did not get the job, he said: “That is not true.”

He said the reason he has taken the job is he believes the team in Government will “deliver”, adding “there are no easy answers”.

“You don’t go into this job to have an easy life. You make some tough decisions every day,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s easy to walk away but actually it’s much tougher to deliver for the country.”

‘You have lost my confidence’

In his resignation letter, Javid 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”.

“Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest,” he said.

Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither. 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.

“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.”

Alex Chalk, former solicitor general, wrote that government posts mean accepting “the duty for difficult or even unpopular policy decisions where that serves the broader national interest”.

But, he added, “it cannot extend to defending the indefensible”.

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. This comes at a moment of intense challenge for our country, when trust in government can rarely have been more important.

“I’m afraid the time has therefore come for fresh leadership.

Theo Clarke, former trade envoy to Kenya, said she had supported Johnson since campaigning in both of his mayoral campaigns but no longer had confidence in his leadership.

“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 judgement and care for your Parliamentary party.

“I was shocked to see colleagues defending the government with assurances that have turned out to be false. This is not the way that any responsible government should act.”

Another envoyl Andrew Murrison, 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 said.

“I strongly urge you to resign.”

Jonathan Gullis, former parliamentary private secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, wrote that the party he had been a member of his “entire adult life” had “been more focused on dealing with out reputation damage rather than delivering for the people of this country and spreading opportunity for all”.

“It is for this reason I can no longer serve as part of your government.”

Saqib Bhatti, former parliamentary private secretary to the Health Secretary, quit his role with a statement that “recent events have undermined trust and standards in public life”.

“I have been grappling with these issues for some time and my conscience will not allow me to continue to support this administration,” he said.

Nicola Richards, former parliamentary private secretary to the Department for Transport, said in a statement that she could not serve “under the current circumstances”.

“At a time where my constituents are worried about the cost of living and I am ding 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 judgement that I don’t wish to be associated with.”

Virginia Crosbie, former parliamentary private secretary at the Welsh Office, wrote that she was “forced to say the sheer number of allegations of impropriety and illegality” centred around Downing Street and Mr 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.”

And speaking to Talk TV, former conservative party vice chair Bim Afolami said: “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.”

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