Sajid Javid has called on other cabinet ministers to leave Boris Johnson’s government and housing secretary Michael Gove has told the PM that it’s time to quit as his government collapses around him.
In a blistering Commons speech, Javid said “treading the tight rope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months” and that “I have concluded that the problem starts at the top and I believe that is not going to change “.
Johnson has reportedly been told this afternoon by chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris and Gove that he should resign immediately, according to the Daily Mail, with more cabinet resignations expected if he stays beyond tonight.
Thirty-one members of Johnson’s government have quit after the bombshell resignations of Javid and ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak last night.
The executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers will meet today to decide if they will change the rules to allow a snap no-confidence vote in Johnson’s leadership of the party as current rules do not permit two votes within 12 months.
Javid told the Commons of his anger at being told by Number 10 there were no Covid parties in Downing Street and having to defend Johnson over partygate, before adding that the Chris Pincher sex scandal made him conclude “there is only so many times you can turn the machine off and on again before you realise there is something fundamentally wrong”.
“I believe a team is only as good as its team captain, and that a captain is as good as his or her team. Loyalty must go both ways,” Javid said.
“The events of recent months have made it increasingly difficult to be in that team. It’s not fair on my ministerial colleagues to go out every morning defending lines that don’t stand up, or don’t hold up.
“I have concluded that the problem starts at the top – that it is not going to change and that those of us in a position to do so have a responsibility to make a change. I wish my colleagues well who have decided to remain in this cabinet, they will all have their own reasons.
“But it is a choice. I know just how difficult this choice is. But let’s be clear. Not doing something is an active decision.”
The flood of resignations come amid fury with Johnson’s handling of the Chris Pincher sexual misconduct scandal, which saw Number 10 admit yesterday that the PM knew of specific allegations against the MP but still appointed him to several ministerial positions.
The admission came after Number 10 said multiple times that this was not the case.
The Pincher affair was the latest in a long string of scandals and comes just weeks after the Sue Gray report into partygate led to a no-confidence vote in the PM, which he narrowly won.
Backbench Conservative MP Gary Sambrook launched a devastating attack on Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions, saying that “the Prime Minister constantly tries to deflect from the issue, always tries to blame other people for mistakes”.
“Yesterday in an attempt to boost morale in the tea room the Prime Minister said at a table that there were seven people, MP’s at the Carlton Club last week and that one of them should’ve tried to intervene to stop Chris (Pincher) from drinking so much,” Sambrook said.
“As if that wasn’t insulting enough to the people that did try and intervene that night, and then also to the victims, that drink was the problem.
“There is at least nothing left for him to do other than to take responsibility and resign.”
Among those who have quit today include ex-City minister John Glen, who resigned this morning after four years in the role.
He said “recent events concerning the handling of the appointment of the former deputy chief whip, and the poor judgement you have shown, have made it impossible for me to square continued service with my conscience”.
Staunch Johnson supporters on the backbenches have also begun to desert him, including 2019 intake MPs like Lee Anderson and Tom Hunt.
Conservative MP Laura Trott, a rising star in the party, quit as a parliamentary private secretary today and said: “Trust in politics is, and must always be, of the upmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost.”
In her resignation letter, justice minister Victoria Atkins today said: “I can no longer pirouette around our fractured values.”