Boris Johnson’s long-time ally Munira Mirza has resigned in anger over his “inappropriate and partisan” insult involving Jimmy Savile.
But who is Ms. Mirza, whom the prime minister once placed alongside Boudicca and her grandmother as the women who most inspired him, and what does her departure mean for the prime minister’s future?
Ms. Mirza first worked for the Prime Minister at least 13 years ago, but her background is not one that would traditionally be seen as conducive to conservatism. She is the youngest daughter of Pakistani immigrants, her father is a laborer and her mother is a housewife and an Urdu teacher.
Ms Mirza grew up in Oldham and attended public schools before becoming the only sixth form student to win a place at Oxford.
It was during his studies at Mansfield College that he joined the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), contributing to its magazine Living Marxism.
He then studied for a doctorate in sociology at the University of Kent under Professor Frank Furedi, who co-founded the RCP, which later disbanded.
She held various jobs in the culture and charity sectors, including at the Royal Society of Arts, the Policy Exchange think tank and the Tate, before being appointed arts adviser to Mr Johnson, 30, when he was elected. Mayor of London in 2008.
During Johnson’s time on the city council, she was promoted, in 2012, to deputy mayor for education and culture, and was described by her former head of city council communications, Guto Harri, as “the perfect counter to critics who suspected the worst.” “. of Boris”.
Ms Mirza is reported to have been a Brexiteer long before Mr Johnson, once joining a protest against a London Underground drinking ban which involved traveling the Circle Line while drinking during the day, in an objection to the state enacting such a measure. Move on.
In 2018, when the prime minister’s comments about burqa-wearing women hit the headlines, Ms. Mirza, a Muslim, launched an impassioned defense of him in the media.
Mirza reportedly helped write the manifesto that brought Johnson to No. 10. Once she became prime minister, she was immediately inducted as part of their inner circle.
Ms Mirza has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, until it was revealed that she played a major role in setting up the prime minister’s commission on racial disparity in 2020, following the Black Lives Mater demonstrations.
Critics said he was not the right person for the job, having previously questioned the existence of institutional racism and criticized the “culture of grievance” among anti-racism activists.
But Johnson defended her in the House of Commons as “a brilliant thinker on these issues.”
In a profile of Mrs Mirza and her husband Dougie Smith, also a powerful force in the Tory party, The Daily Telegraph reported how, in December 2018, she described herself as “on the left”.
Ms. Mirza was listed by Mr. Johnson in 2020 as one of the top five women who had inspired him.
She was on the list along with activist Malala Yousafzai, her grandmother, queen of the British tribe Iceni Boudicca, and singer-songwriter Kate Bush.
Of Ms. Mirza, he said, “Munira is capable of being modern, cool, wonderful, and generally fashionable.”
Mirza’s departure from No. 10 comes after a growing number of conservatives said they had lost confidence in Johnson.
She has been replaced as head of the policy unit by Andrew Griffith MP.
Ms Mirza is reportedly a friend of The Spectator’s James Forsyth, who broke the story of her resignation. Forsyth is married to Johnson’s former press secretary, Allegra Stratton, who resigned at the start of the partygate saga.
While Ms Stratton, prior to joining the Prime Minister’s team, had been director of strategic communications for Rishi Sunak and Mr Forsyth and the Chancellor have been friends since they attended Winchester College together and are godparents to the children of the other.
Lord Ashcroft, who wrote a biography of the chancellor, has previously said that Forsyth helped Sunak enter politics by introducing him to Mirza’s husband, Smith.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr. Sunak described Ms. Mirza as a “valuable colleague” he would miss working with.
Former number 10 assistant Nikki da Costa said Ms Mirza was “a huge loss”.
She tweeted: “Know that your team will feel this deeply and value your leadership, encouragement, stability, fairness and values.”
Oliver Lewis, who had a brief spell as head of the No. 10 Union unit but was previously a Vote Leave member and de facto deputy to Brexit minister Lord Frost, said he was “one of the smartest people around.” , tough and kind people I have worked with. both during the referendum and when I was in government.”