Will Quince MP announced his resignation today as minister for children, families and social services.
Quince defended the government on Monday’s media round jus two days ago, echoing the now rescinded line that No 10 was unaware of any “specific allegations” that ought to have ruled out Chris Pincher for the deputy chief whip appointment in February.
It remains to be seen if any additional resignations will occur in the course of today.
This follows yesterday’s evening of chaos for the government, as health secretary Sajid Javid and chancellor Rishi Sunak quit the cabinet.
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Boris Johnson quickly replaced them to strengthen his leadership. Nadhim Zahawi was appointed the next chancellor. Steve Barclay will replace Javid as health secretary. Michele Donelan is moving to the Department for Education to succeed Zahawi.
Sunak, Javid and several other government members quickly followed them in resigning their jobs, including Bin Afolami, Conservative vice chair, who resigned live from the air.
Four permanent private secretaries also resigned. Saqib Bhatti, MP for Meriden and Jonathan Gullis (MP for Stoke on Trent), have resigned from their positions at the Department for Health and Social Care and the Northern Ireland Office. Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, and Virginia Crosbie MP for Ynys Mon have resigned from their positions at both the Department for Transport (Welsh Office) and the Department for Transport.
Gullis’ and Richards’ resignations are significant, as they were thought to have been supporters of Johnson during the recent no confidence vote.
Andrew Murrison, South West Wiltshire MP, has also resigned from his position of trade envoy to Morocco.
Both Conservative MPs as well as opposition MPs welcomed the resignations. Former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost said Sunak and Javid had “done the right thing”, adding that the country would be best served by “new leadership and a new prime minister.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Boris Johnson should have “gone a long time ago”.
Johnson is still loyal to Jacob Rees Mogg, the leader of the House. He said Johnson would not vote for any other leader in general elections. Another Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries said: “I’m not sure anyone doubted this, however, I am 100% behind Boris Johnson, the PM who consistently gets all the big decisions right.”
Today’s resignations come in the light of a letter on Tuesday morning from Lord McDonald, the former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, in which he made it clear that the prime minister had not been honest in relation to his statements on the former deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher.
They follow the resignation of Conservative chairman Oliver Dowden who resigned after June’s disastrous by-election results.
In his resignation letter to the prime minister, Sunak said “things can ‘no longer continue like this”, adding: “The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly and seriously”.
In his letter, Javid said the “British people rightly expect integrity from their government”.
Sunak and Javid are close friends. Javid was previously the Treasury’s health secretary. Sunak is also close to Dowden, which suggests that there may have been a coordinated action by government to take action against Johnson.
Although a number of junior ministers had already resigned, it will be more resignations from Cabinet that will be the main focus. These initial resignations by senors could prompt more ministers to take action.
In an already unfolding situation, other Cabinet ministers pledged their loyalty to Prime Minister Dominic Raab by 6.45pm Tuesday. They included Priti Patel and Kwarsi Kwarteng.
It is also possible for Cabinet ministers to publicly back the prime minister to have different conversations privately with him.
Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Britain, was forced to resign in 1990. She had been told by many cabinet ministers that they would resign if Number 10 was not left. After meeting with the cabinet throughout the evening, she submitted her resignation the next morning.
On Twitter, several Conservative MPs have called for Mr Johnson’s resignation tonight. Although they have not called for the PM to resign publicly (and in fact have previously made supportive comments), Sally-Ann Hart and Bim Afolami are among those who have supported Johnson’s call. Johnson could face further problems if the 1922 committee rules are changed to allow for a second vote of no confidence before parliament rises in July.
Sunak was the favourite to replace Johnson earlier in the year according to the bookies. Following revelations about his wife’s tax affairs, his popularity has waned in recent months, but this shock resignation may earn him plaudits from those in the parliamentary Conservative party who have been desperate for Johnson to quit. Both Sunak as well as Javid have ambitions to be leaders.
With the prospect of further high drama, tomorrow Boris Johnson is due to face both prime minister’s questions and a two hour grilling from the liaison committee at Westminster.
Responding to the resignations, the Labour frontbencher, Jess Phillips MP, said it was “absolutely not possible” that Boris Johnson had simply forgotten that he had been briefed about Pincher’s past behaviour. Speaking on Sky News at 6.30pm tonight, she expressed her doubt that Boris Johnson “would last the next half an hour” .
Continuing, Phillips said: “Unlike most people who would act with dignity and grace, Boris Johnson has no dignity or standards, these things don’t affect him in the same way that they affect others. So Boris Johnson today will just be thinking about how he can save Boris Johnson, and somehow in that he is uniquely talented”.