Welcome to The Times‘s live coverage of today’s politics. Boris Johnson has been hit by his fourth Cabinet resignation and told: “We are past the point of no return.”
The prime minister is “absolutely determined” to stay in power and is “100 per cent” prepared to fight a second confidence vote despite a revolt from Cabinet loyalists and mass resignations.
The prime minister is “100 per cent” prepared to fight a second confidence vote despite a revolt from cabinet loyalists and mass resignations.
More than 50 government ministers and aides have resigned in the space of the past 48 hours, a record, leaving swathes of government roles unfilled.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, this morning announced that he was standing down after failing to persuade Johnson to go.
He said: “I have given you, and those around you, the benefit of the doubt. I have gone out and defended this government both publicly and privately.
“We are, however, past the point of no return. I cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to defend things as they stand. It is clear our party, parliamentary colleagues, volunteers and the whole country deserve better.
“In recent weeks and months we have been relentlessly on the defensive, consumed by introspection and in fighting. A divided party cannot win elections. It cannot deliver for those who trusted us with their votes for the first time in 2019.
“A decent and responsible government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect – it is a matter of profound personal regret for me that I must leave government as I no longer believe those values are being upheld.”
Simon Hart, the Welsh secretary, became the third cabinet minister to resign last night. Helen Whately, a treasury minister, also quit this morning and said: “There are only so many times you can apologize and move on.”
Damian Hinds, the security minister, became the 51st MP to resign from the government this morning, saying: “It shouldn’t take the resignation of dozens of colleagues, but for our country, and trust in our democracy, we must have a change of leadership.”
Johnson sacked Michael Gove, the leveling-up secretary, by phone for disloyalty after claiming that he had reported against him. “It’s not the first time he’s been treacherous, appalling and disloyal,” an ally of Johnson said. “This is something he should have done years ago. You can’t go briefing the press that you’re calling on the prime minister to go and expect to stay in cabinet.”
Allies of Johnson claimed his resignation would lead to a general election that would involve Labor forming a coalition with the SNP, locking the Tories out of power for decades. He said that he was acting for the good of the country rather than from self-interest.
Ten cabinet ministers told Johnson to resign, including Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor, and Michelle Donelan, the education secretary, who were appointed on Tuesday.
In echoes of the moves that led to Margaret Thatcher’s resignation in 1990 three of Johnson’s previously most loyal supporters — Priti Patel, the home secretary; Grant Shapps, the transport secretary; and Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary — also told him that it was time for him to go. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister and a staunch ally, was said to have reservations about whether Johnson could continue given the scale of opposition.