The prime minister is under increasing pressure to quit amid a series of high-profile cabinet resignations over the last 48 hours.
Over the course of Wednesday’s drama, we followed all the latest news, opinion and analysis from Westminster on ourCity AM’s live blog.
From resignations and letters of support, to the latest policy changes and new appointments, here are all the key points.
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Boris clings on
Prime minister Boris Johnson has refused to resign, after 38 ministers, government officials and envoys handed in letters of resignation, while many more handed in letters withdrawing support.
The influential Tory backbench 1922 Committee is set to hold a vote on Monday to change its executive. It has been suggested the new executive SUPPORTS rule-changes, to allow a vote of no confidence in the PM. Under current rules, the PM can not face another for for about 11 months, since surviving the previous one in June.
Priti Patel sides with the rebels
Home Secretary Priti Patel appears to have sided with the rebels, according to The Times.
Senior cabinet members to confront Boris Johnson urging him to resign
A group of cabinet ministers are about to tell UK PM Boris Johnson to resign, including the chief whip, the BBC understands.
The Times‘ Journalist Henry Zeffman said the delegation to confront Johnson includes Nadhim Zahawi, the newly-appointed shadow chancellor.
The BBC reported the delegation also included new education secretary Michelle Donelan and transport chief, Grant Shapps.
Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel Maclean MP, has resigned
Maclean quit with scathing letter delivered to Boris Johnson about safeguarding: “When you appointed me to serve in the Home Office, you tasked me – as Minister for Safeguarding – with improving the woefully low rate of prosecutions for sexual offences.”
“However, 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.”
This comes after the prime minister admitted he did know about claims of sexual harassment made against Chris Pincher when he promoted him. Previously he claimed he didn’t know, and multiple ministers defended him on record.
The u-turn on whether he knew about Pincher’s alleged activity has been the source of much of the fury from ministers who have resigned.
Michael Gove calls for PM to resign.
The senior MP who is Levelling Up, Communities and Housing Secretary, was not present at Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today, as rumours swirled over his future.
Gove, who has not resigned, called on Boris to quit.
Earlier in the afternoon, veteran former defence minister Dr Liam Fox joined the chorus of former allies knifing the PM in the back.
He published a letter he had personally handed into the prime minister, saying he was withdrawing his support.
Boris Johnson faces Liaison Committee
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing senior MPs at the Liaison Committee.
The panel is made up of the heads of other leading committees, and is sometimes dubbed a ‘super-committee’.
Who could take over if Boris Johnson quits?
The resignation of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday has cast further doubt on the future of Boris Johnson’s premiership, particularly since a small army of junior ministers followed this morning and resigned.
Looking ahead, City A.M. takes a look at potential frontrunners to replace Johnson as Prime Minister:
- Rishi Sunak
- Jeremy Hunt
- Liz Truss
- Sajid Javid
- Ben Wallace
- Nadhim Zahawi
- Penny Mordaunt
2.45pm – Rising Tory star Kemi Bedanoch among six ministers to hand in their resignation
Those who handed in their resignation together include:
- Julia Lopez, a culture minister.
- Lee Rowley, a business minister.
- Alex Burghart, education minister.
- Neil O’Brien, a levelling up minister.
- Kemi Badenoch, a local government minister.
- Shortly after those five quit, Mims Davies, an employment minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, also handed in her resignation.
The total number of resignations is now at at least 28.
1.20pm – 20th person resigns from government role
Following PMQs, and the resignation speech from Sajid Javid in the Commons, there was a string of further letters by officials quitting the Johnson government
David Johnston, PPS at Education and Claire Coutinho, PPS at the Treasury both handed in letters, in addition to Selaine Saxby, a former official at first Defra and then the Treasury.
So far, there has been 22 resignations, including two cabinet ministers, seven government ministers and seven Parliamentary Private Secretaries and three other officials, including the vice chair of the party who quit live on TV.
12.45pm – Sajid Javid delivers resignation speech: “Enough is enough”
Sajid Javid called on other cabinet ministers to leave Boris Johnson’s government , with the former health secretary telling the House of Commons that “enough is enough”.
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 “.
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”.
MIDDAY – Boris Johnson faces MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions:
Tory MP Tim Laughton asks if there are “any circumstances in which he should resign?”, leading to rapturous laughter from the benches.
Johnson responds if he felt “there were circumstances in which it would be impossible for the government to go on and discharge the mandate we’ve been given..or being frustrated in the desire to support the Ukrainian people.. then I would.”
He hits back saying, “frankly the job of the prime minister in difficult circumstances when he’s been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going”.
Starmer’s jibe at Johnson: The charge of the lightweight brigade
“As for those who are left, only in office because nobody is prepared to debase themselves any longer.”
The Labour leader says for “week he’s had them defend his decision to a sexual predator”.
“Every week, the lines he’s forced them to take have been untrue. First that he was unaware of any allegation.. then he was unaware of specific allegations, then a serious specific allegation, and now he wants them to go out and say he forgot that his whip was a sexual predator.”
He said the country deserves better than a “z-list cast of nodding dogs.”.
Keir Starmer quotes the alleged victim of Chris Pincher, saying: “He grabbed my arse and then he slowly moved his hand to my groin. I froze”.
The Labour leader asks why someone accused of “predatory behaviour” was promoted.
Boris Johnson says he “abhors” Pincher’s alleged behaviour.
The embattled PM is asked why he promoted him, and Johnson responds: “I’m not going to trivialise what happened. It is true a complaint was raised when he was in the foreign office.”
“I greatly regret he continued in office.”
Starmer asks whether Johnson regrets comments about being gay during Pincher allegations against a young man, which the PM is quoted as having said “complicated things”.
“Awful behaviour, unacceptable in any walk of life, it’s there for all to see – but he ignores it”, Starmer said.
11.23 – 1922 Committee to meet today
Boris Johnson could be facing his demise as early as next week according to Bloomberg.
The agency reported that the powerful backbench 1922 Committee will meet at 5 pm today.
It will be voting on whether it will change its rules to allow another vote of not confidence in the prime minister.
Bloomberg said if it’s quorate in favour of changing the leadership rules it will do so, which could lead to a new vote of no confidence in the embattled PM as early as next week.
10.30am Nadhim Zahawi to review corporation tax rise
Following the shock resignation of Rishi Sunak as Chancellor yesterday, Nadhim Zahawi has got to go to work in his first day in the job, suggesting he will review cooperation tax rises.
The former education secretary will review plans to raise it from 19p to 25p according to the Financial Times..
In a bid to win back voters and support, Number 10 is looking to cut tax and cancel tax rises, announced by the previous chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
10.04am – Markets react
Stronger risk appetite comes despite rising political uncertainty caused by some of prime minister Boris Johnson’s top team resigning last night.
The pound was largely flat against the dollar. Yields on UK government debt jumped. Yields and prices move inversely. Read more here.
Stuart Andrew resigns as Housing Minister at the conclusion of PMQs. Following Johnson’s fiery exchange with Sir Keir Starmer, Andrew shared his letter on social media saying he has allowed “loyalty and unity” to “override my judgment” of late.
Jo Churchill MP quits as a Defra minister. In her resignation letter she said it was also an honour to serve in the health ministry during the pandemic.
Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins has resigned.
City Minister and Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glenn, has quit.
Felicity Buchan MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced her resignation.
In a letter posted on social media, she said the PM has “lost the confidence of my constituents and me. Thecurrent situation is untenable”.
This morning, Will Quince quit his role as children’s minister just two days after defending the prime minister live on television.
In a resignation letter posted don Twitter, he said he had quit “after I accepted and repeated assurances on Monday to the media which have now been found to be inaccurate.”
In his letter tendering his resignation as children and families minister, Will Quince said he had “no choice”.
Robin Walker has resigned as minister of state for school standards.
He said in his letter posted on Twitter, 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.
“The loss or the Rishi Sunak and the Said Javid this week, two of our brightest talents from the top team, reflecis a worrying narrowing of the broad church that believe an Conservative Government should seek to achieve.”
Who else has withdrawn support?
Sir Roger Gale
Anne Marie Morris
Iain Duncan Smith
Vultures are also circling with the influential backbench Conservative 1922 Committee considering changing its rules, to allow another vote of no confidence in the PM. Its rules currently would not allow a vote, because it found the party did have continence in him last month, and it requires a year to pass before a second vote can be held.
List of resignations so far:
- Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary
- Rishi Sunak, Chancellor
- Will Quince, Children’s Minister
- Bim Afolami, Tory vice-chair
- Jonathan Gullis – Parliamentary Private Secretary
- Andrew Murrison – Trade Envoy to Morocco
- Nicola Richards – Parliamentary Private Secretary
- Virginia Crosbie – Parliamentary Private Secretary
- Theo Clarke – Trade Envoy to Kenya
- Alex Chalk – Solicitor General
- Laura Trott – Parliamentary Private Secretary
- Robin Walker, Minister of State for School Standards
- Victoria Atkins, Home Office Minister
- John Glen, City Minister and Economic Secretary to the Treasury
- Felicity Buchan MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Other resignations (mainly junior ministers and PPSs).
- Victoria Atkins
- Jo Churchill
- Stuart Andrew
- Selaine Saxby
- David Johnston
- Claire Coutinho
- Kemi Badenoch
- Neil O’Brien
- Alex Burghart
- Lee Rowley
- Julia Lopez
- Duncan Baker
- Mims Davies
- Fay Jones
- Craig Williams
- Mark Logan
Timeline of events
The prime minister claimed he didn’t know about accusations of sexual harassment made against Chris Pincher, who was appointed as deputy chief whip.
Numerous cabinet colleagues publicly defended the PM on the TV and in newspapers, insisting he did not know of the claims.
Yesterday, a former top civil servant, Lord Simon McDonald, said the PM did know about the claims.
Number 10 admitted it was aware.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and ex-health secretary Sajid Javid said that they were quitting the government at 6pm on Tuesday, as a BBC interview with Boris Johnson was aired, in which he apologised.
Over the next few hours, multiple Parliamentary Private Secretaries resigned, as did junior ministers.
Letters were also handed in by leading backbench Tories to the influential 1922 Committee, which has the power to change the Tory leader.