After two of his most senior ministers criticised his leadership and quit, Boris Johnson is now battling for his political life.
Within ten minutes of one another, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned, followed by a flurry of junior ministers and aides.
The new chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, has pressed his colleagues to work together and said that Mr Johnson is ‘focused on delivery’.
However, as Mr Johnson gets ready for PMQs and a subsequent grilling by senior MPs, he has been stung by further resignations.
Will Quince, who was assigned to defend Chris Pincher’s selection as deputy chief whip by No. 10, has resigned from his position as Education Minister.
As a result of the government’s lack of confidence, Sevenoaks MP Laura Trott has also resigned from her position as a ministerial adviser at the Transport Ministry.
Mr Johnson will take part in Prime Minister’s Questions. Later, he will testify before senior lawmakers on the Liaison Committee.
Along with Steve Barclay, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, who was elevated to the position of health secretary, Mr Zahawi was selected as the fourth chancellor in three years.
A No. 10 source called the new health secretary “more dynamic and more aligned” and said the new chancellor was a “massive upgrade” from Mr Johnson.
Downing Street’s handling of the Chris Pincher situation has been “really appalling” according to Bim Afolami, who resigned as vice-chair of the Conservative Party live on television on Tuesday evening. He stated he could no longer “defend that sort of behaviour”
He said to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while he had voted in favour of Mr Johnson’s latest vote of confidence to allow him time to recover from Partygate, things had “got a lot worse” recently.
Boris under the bus
Although Mr Javid and Mr Sunak haven’t spoken out publicly since resigning, their resignation letters from Tuesday were quite scathing of the PM.
The public expects the government to be run “acting in the national interest” according to Mr Sunak and Mr Javid, who both expressed concern that the leadership was not conducting itself “properly, competently and seriously!”
In addition to Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, calling for a fast, general election, opposition party leaders encouraged more cabinet members to follow the two and quit.
It was “over” for Mr Johnson, according to Tory MP and former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who told BBC Newsnight that “he has neither the character nor the temperament to be our Prime Minister” The only remaining issue was how long the relationship would last.
However, the Prime Minister cannot be removed from office under the present Conservative Party rules. Several ministers have supported the PM, notably Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is a possible candidate to succeed him as leader of the Conservative Party.
She said that she was “100% behind the PM” and other cabinet members such as Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Therese Coffey, and Ben Wallace all confirmed they would continue serving in the cabinet.
Daniel Kawczynski, a Tory backbencher, said the resignations “could have triggered an avalanche against the Prime Minister but it hasn’t”, adding that they will eventually bolster Mr Johnson’s position.
Boris Johnson is prepared for additional resignations, maybe not from the cabinet but from positions further down the ministerial hierarchy.
Following the resignations of the two members of the cabinet, both the PM and Westminster briefly pondered what may come next?!
He was calling the other members of his cabinet to see whether they were still with him even though he had no control over the situation. They were with him, and he is no longer in serious danger, at least for the time being.
However, his staff continue to show resistance, even though a few more junior resignations did follow.
The already significant discontent on the backbenches is growing, and some are wanting to amend the party’s rules so the Prime Minister must face another vote of confidence.
Many government ministers have stated their intention to remain. And unless we learn differently, Boris Johnson is not someone who is expected to go easily!
To put it mildly, things continue to be fluid.
The sole issue at hand is Boris Johnson’s survival. The simple truth is we don’t know? And here’s another thing, he doesn’t either? Events and his government are no longer within his control. He has never had a day in office that was more threatening!
Boris’ future is far from secure.
Read Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s and Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s resignation letters in full HERE
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