A summary of today's developments
- A total of 44 people have resigned from the government – with one more sacked – since Sajid Javid set the ball rolling yesterday evening.
- Simon Hart became the third Cabinet minister to resign, stepping down from his position as Welsh Secretary. He wrote in his resignation letter: “I have never been a massive fan of Ministerial resignations being the best means of forcing change.
- “Colleagues have done their upmost in private and public to help you turn the ship around, but it is with sadness that I feel we have passed the point where this is possible”.
- Edward Argar, minister of state for health, also handed in his resignation.
- Bury North MP James Daly resigned as a parliamentary private secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions stating he has “lost confidence” in the prime minister.
- Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, was sacked by Johnson with sources saying it was due to his “disloyalty” for being among the members of the Cabinet urging Johnson to quit. Following the sacking of Gove, Danny Kruger stood down as a PPS in the levelling up department.
- James Duddridge, who is one of Boris Johnson’s PPSs, told Sky News the PM is in a “buoyant mood and will fight on”. And he said Johnson is planning a joint announcement on Thursday with Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor.
- Suella Braverman, the attorney general, says there is an overwhelming sense of despair among Conservative MPs and “the time has come for the PM to step down”. She told the Peston programme on ITV it is “untenable” for him to continue as leader.
- Priti Patel was one of the delegation of cabinet ministers urging Johnson to go, an ally confirmed. It is understood the home secretary was concerned the government would be unable to function with so many posts unfilled.
- David Duguid resigned as a trade envoy for Angola and Zambia, James Sunderland MP resigned as a PPS to the environment department, Peter Gibson resigned as a PPS to the international trade department.
- The Conservative 1922 Committee has decided not to change the leadership election rules. But on Monday next week elections will take place for the executive.
The BBC’s Newsnight, in its closing credits, listed the 42 people who had – at that point – resigned from the government since Tuesday to the soundtrack of an acoustic version of Bittersweet Symphony.
Labour MP Jess Phillips reacted to the attorney general’s comments about putting her hat in the ring if there is a leadership contest.
Margot James, a former minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has criticised the prime minister’s decision to sack Michael Gove.
Here are those quotes from Suella Braverman MP saying Johnson’s time is up, which are now trending on Twitter.
Attorney general joins calls for Johnson to resign
Suella Braverman, the attorney general, says there is an overwhelming sense of despair among Conservative MPs and “the time has come for the PM to step down”.
She told the Peston programme on ITV it is “untenable” for him to continue as leader.
Braverman added she would not be resigning because of her duty to her role but acknowledged that Johnson might sack her and said that, if there was a leadership contest, “I will put my hat in the ring.”
The front page of Thursday’s Guardian.
Edward Argar becomes latest minister to resign
Edward Argar, minister of state for health, has also handed in his resignation.
In the wake of Michael Gove’s sacking, Boris Johnson’s allies reportedly described him as a “snake”.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton compared Boris Johnson’s PPS James Duddridge to the former Iraqi propaganda chief known as Comical Ali, as he said the “game is up” for the prime minister.
The East Worthing and Shoreham MP told Sky News: “To be sent out by No 10 to give Comical Ali a run for his money is pretty poor and defending the indefensible. The game is up.”
He said Johnson “will have to go one way or the other in the next few days” and that he cannot replace the vacancies left by ministers who have resigned “because frankly, I think he’d really struggle to find people that would now want to serve in his government”.
Welsh secretary hands in resignation
The Welsh secretary Simon Hart has become the latest cabinet member to resign in the past few minutes.
The deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, made only a fleeting reference to events at Westminster during a speech at the lord mayor’s annual judges dinner at Mansion House, central London, this evening.
There was plenty of speculation before his arrival as to whether Raab, appearing in his capacity as lord chancellor, would show up given the government’s travails and whether he would be acting prime minister by the time of his speech.
In the event, there was no promotion and the only reference in his speech to dramas elsewhere was a reference to how his attendance was “a bit of light relief after the last 24 hours”.
The most notable reaction to the speech came when someone booed when he expressed disappointment at the criminal barristers’ strike.
Earlier in the evening, a formal prayer drew laughter from the distinguished attendees, when an invocation was made for “sound government”.
Here is the full story on a dramatic day:
Boris Johnson was locked in an unprecedented standoff with his own cabinet on Wednesday, as he clung to power after an extraordinary day that saw more than 40 resignations and the sacking of Michael Gove.
The prime minister appeared determined to fight on, despite a delegation of senior cabinet ministers, including the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, personally urging him to resign.
Instead of stepping down, Johnson responded by sacking Gove as levelling up secretary. Gove had earlier told the PM in a face-to-face meeting that he believed his position was unsustainable, given the number of MPs who had turned against him.
A Downing Street source said: “He wants to stay and fight. The choice is a summer of navel-gazing and instability or a new partnership that finally moves forward and tackles the cost of living crisis and grows the economy.
“It’s not quite as Doomsday as people were thinking a few hours ago.”
Running total – 43 departures
A total of 42 people have resigned from the government – with one more sacked – as things stand since Sajid Javid set the ball rolling at 18:02 yesterday by stepping down as health secretary.
William Wragg, a Conservative MP and fierce Johnson critic, has pointed out that under the UK’s parliamentary democracy, voters gave the Conservative party a mandate in the 2019 election rather than handing Boris Johnson a personal one as he has claimed.
Wragg tweeted: “A Constitutional Monarchy, not a Presidency. It is a shame to have to point out this principle.”
James Daly MP resigns as parliamentary private secretary
Bury North MP James Daly has resigned as a parliamentary private secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions stating he has “lost confidence” in the prime minister.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, he wrote: “Due to recent events, it has become very clear that you are sadly unable to lead our Government and deliver on the policies that will change lives for the better and create opportunity for all.
“As a result of the above, I have lost confidence in your leadership of our great party and therefore as outlined above I must resign.”
Earlier I said that even ministers who want to shrink the size of government, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, would not want to run a government with 15 or so ministers missing. (See 2.55pm.) It seems I might have been wrong. This is from the Times’s Chris Smyth.
That’s all from me for tonight. My colleague Nadeem Badshah is taking over now.
Johnson to make 'major appointments' to government tonight, ally claims
James Duddridge, one of the Boris Johnson’s parliamentary private secretaries, has just given an interview to Jon Craig from Sky News. Here are the main points.
- Duddridge insisted that Johnson would be able to appoint new ministers to replace the ones who have resigned. “There are plenty of people keen, willing and able to serve and will do so under Boris Johnson,” he said.
- He said he expected some “major appointments” to be made tonight. But not all the appointments would be made tonight, he said.
- He hinted that Johnson would now be able to deliver tax cuts, and he said that would reassure Tories.
- He said the recent Tory byelection defeats just showed a return to “business as usual”. Governing parties normally lost byelections mid-term, he said.
- He also claimed “business as usual” was being carried out in No 10.
- He claimed that Johnson is “moving forward”.
- He said that he continued to support Johnson because Johnson had an “electoral magic” that made him right for the country and right for the party.
Danny Kruger resigns as PPS to levelling up department, saying Johnson – not Gove – should go
Following the sacking of Michael Gove, Danny Kruger has announced that he is resigning as a PPS in the levelling up department.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary and a diehard Johnson supporter, has posted a message on Twitter saying the PM’s priority “is to stablise the government”.
Sacking the minister in charge of what is supposed to be the PM’s main domestic agenda (levelling up) is perhaps a strange way of going about this. But by “stabilise the government”, she could mean demand more loyalty.
My colleague Rowena Mason has also heard No 10 briefing against Michael Gove.
Gove sacked for disloyalty, No 10 sources claim
This is from Chris Mason, the BBC’s political editor, quoting a No 10 source explaning why Michael Gove was sacked.
Johnson sacks Gove as levelling up secretary
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, has been sacked. This was first reported by the BBC, and has been confirmed by the Guardian.
Sky News is now reporting that James Duddridge, the PM’s PPS, has told them Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi will unveil an economic plan next week, not tomorrow as originally stated.
We’ve just published John Crace’s sketch on today’s events. This is how it starts.
The Sky News helicopter hovered above Westminster. The constant thrum an insistent death knell for any incumbent prime minister. Down below, a steady stream of junior ministers and parliamentary private secretaries – many of whom were barely known even by their own families – offered their resignations, while many no-mark backbenchers wrote letters of no confidence.
When you’ve lost faithful toadies like Robert Jenrick and Tom Hunt as well as 2019 red-wallers, such as Lee Anderson and Jonathan Gullis, then the game is up. At this rate of attrition, Boris Johnson is going to have trouble filling all the available ministerial posts.
And here is the full sketch.
Brandon Lewis has, in fact, not actually resigned, Sky News and others are now saying.
'Buoyant' Johnson determined to 'fight on' and planning economic announcement together, ally says
James Duddridge, who is one of Boris Johnson’s PPSs, has told Sky News that the PM is in a “buoyant mood and will fight on”.
And he said Johnson is planning a joint announcement tomorrow with Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor. Duddridge said:
[Johnson] has a 14 million mandate and so much to do for the country. I expect him to make senior cabinet appointments this evening and am looking forward to hearing what the PM and his fantastic chancellor Nadhim Zahawi have to say tomorrow.
(Margaret Thatcher at one point said she would “fight on” after failing to win outright in the first ballot of the leadership vote in 1990. She ended up resigning.)
UPDATE: Sky News is now reporting that Duddridge has told them Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi will unveil an economic plan next week, not tomorrow as originally stated.
Jacob Young has resigned as PPS to Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary. He says despite his personal loyalty to Boris Johnson, he feels his position is now untenable.
How credible are Johnson's arguments to Tory MPs as to why he should stay
Boris Johnson has been making various arguments to colleagues as to why he should be allowed to stay in office. Some are more spurious than others. Here is a quick summary.
1) Electing a new leader would trigger an early election. This is a very weak argument. A new Tory leader would still have a working majority of around 70. Labour might demand an early election, but the new leader would not have to grant one. Changing leader does sometimes lead to an election happening earlier than otherwise - but that is normally because the governing party thinks it will benefit from a ‘new leader bounce’.
2) An early election would lead to an “almost certain’ Tory defeat. An election now certainly would lead to a Tory defeat. But it probably would not happen anyway (see above), and having a new leader would probably improve the party’s chances at the next election. (See 7.08pm.)
3) An early election would lead to a Labour/SNP coalition being in power. This is a rerun of the “coalition of chaos” argument that David Cameron used in 2015 very successfully (but dishonestly - it is hard to imagine any Labour/SNP pact in 2015 creating quite as much chaos as what came next.) Labour has firmly ruled a coalition with the SNP. But a Labour government might still need SNP votes to pass legislation, and so this argument has a bit of substance to it.
4) A minority Labour government would introduce proportional representation, locking the Tories out of power for decades. Some Labour MPs would love to introduce PR, but the party leadership is still committed to first past the post and did little to support the campaign for the alternative vote in 2011. First past the post works very well for the SNP in Scotland. For many on the left, electoral reform should be a priority for a progressive government, and so Johnson is raising an issue that does concern Tories. But Labour governments have never yet introduced PR. And even if they did, it would not necessarily stop right wing coalitions being elected.
5) A minority Labour government would allow a second Scottish independence referendum, which could lead to the break-up of the UK. Keir Starmer now says he is opposed to a second referendum. But he has sounded more positive about allowing one in the past, and so such a vote would at least be more likely with a minority Labour government in power. But this argument ignores the point that it is having Johnson as prime minister that has helped to hold up support for independence in Scotland in the first place.
If Boris Johnson holds on as PM until the weekend, and does wait until a second no confidence vote, he will have to start making some of these arguments in public.
Brandon Lewis has resigned as Northern Ireland secretary, according to Sky News and other media sources. But this has not yet been confirmed.
UPDATE: Now Sky News and others are saying Brandon Lewis has not resigned (yet).
Priti Patel urges PM to go
Priti Patel was one of the delegation of cabinet ministers urging Johnson to go, an ally has confirmed. It is understood she was concerned the government would be unable to function with so many posts unfilled.
However, she is not expected to resign if the prime minister refuses to go, because she believes it would be irresponsible to abandon such a crucial job. “What if something awful like an attack happens?” said the ally.
Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor, is backing Boris Johnson, my colleague Rowena Mason reports. Some of the reporting earlier said Zahawi was in the Johnson out camp.
Cabinet ministers who want Boris Johnson to resign are worried that doing so might plunge the government into chaos, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.
Further cabinet resignations possible as Johnson tells colleagues he won't quit
It is now being widely reported that Boris Johnson is telling colleagues he will not quit.
These are from the Daily Mail’s Jason Groves.
And these are from the Times’ Steven Swinford.
And these are from the Sun’s Harry Cole.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, has come out of No 10 saying she still supports Boris Johnson, my colleague Peter Walker reports.
Sir Charles Walker, the Conservative MP who has been reasonably supportive of Boris Johnson in the past, told Channel 4 News that it was “over” for the PM and that he expects him to quit tonight. Britain no longer has “a functioning government in place”, he said.
Johnson reportedly refusing to resign, suggesting his departure might be followed by early election and Tory defeat
Boris Johnson is determined not to resign, ITV’s Anushka Asthana reports.
At the Commons liaison committee this afternoon Boris Johnson was extremely evasive when asked if he would rule out calling a general election if he lost a Tory no confidence vote. He eventually ruled it out (see 5.02pm), but he also gave the impression that he could see the case for an election on the grounds that he has a personal mandate from the 2019 election (see 4.36pm). (There are some parallels with Jeremy Corbyn, who felt entitled to ignore the views of MPs who had lost confidence in him because he had a mandate from Labour members.)
To call an election, Johnson would have to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament. Theoretically the Queen could say no, in circumstances set out in the Lascelles principles, but whether these would hold up when put to the test is another matter. Normally the monarch defers to the PM. Johnson has little respect for convention, and so it is not hard to see why some MPs think an early election is possible.
But in a post on his Substack blog, Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former chief adviser, says he thinks in practice Johnson would choose not to embarrass the Queen and an election would not happen. He says:
While [Johnson] will happily cause all sorts of mayhem, I don’t believe he’ll go to the Queen for an election. He has no conventional sense of shame but he will be told that putting her in an embarrassing position requiring her to exercise prerogative powers would destroy his reputation. I’ve seen him told before ‘PM if X then the Queen would be embarrassed’. He folded instantly. He can’t just call an election then it happens – he has to have a majority of MPs. In such an extreme ‘he goes mad’ situation, the cabinet secretary would advise the Queen to summon someone else to form a government, given the 80 majority.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, is backing those cabinet ministers saying Boris Johnson should go, the Times’ Matt Dathan reports. Patel used to be one of his strongest supporters. He defied expectations when he made her home secretary, and he backed her when his ethics adviser produced a report saying she broke the ministerial code by bullying staff. But recently their relationship has been more frayed, with No 10 sometimes apparently briefing criticism of her handling of the Channel small boats problem.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has just come out of No 10, Sky News reports. But he did not say anything on his way out.
Stephen Bush from the FT says polling history from 1945 suggests changing leaders will improve the Conserative party’s chances at the next election.
The Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly has renewed his call for a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson.
The night before she resigned, Margaret Thatcher met members of her cabinet one by one to ask if she could rely on their support in the second ballot of the leadership contest. She won the first round, but not by the threshold then required. If Thatcher thought that not allowing them to confront her as a group would lessen their courage and weaken their resolve to tell her to go, it did not work. Most of them told her that her time was up.
According to Harry Cole from the Sun, Boris Johnson is deploying the same tactic.
According to an MP quoted by Chris Smyth from the Times, Boris Johnson anticipates his departure from office in accordance with a moral code from the Iliad.
And Alex Wickham from Bloomberg says Johnson is currently minded to fight on.
PPS resignations continue
The Tory resignations keep coming. Here are some of the latest from MPs.
David Duguid has resigned as a trade envoy for Angola and Zambia. In a statement, he said: “In light of recent events, I believe the prime minister’s position is now untenable.”
James Sunderland MP has resigned as a PPS to the environment department.
Peter Gibson has resigned as a PPS to the international trade department. In his resignation letter he said:
On Saturday last week I marched with LGBT+ Conservatives at London Pride.
As a gay MP, that should have been a liberating, enjoyable experience, instead due to the damage our party has inflicted on itself over the failure to include trans people in the ban on conversion therapy, it was a humiliating experience and signalled to me the immense damage that has been so needlessly inflicted after years of hard work by many to rebuild the damage of Section 28.
Sara Britcliffe has resigned as PPS to Nadhim Zahawi (although she was PPS to him as education secretary, and so it was not inevitable that she would move over to the Treasury).
Mark Fletcher has resigned as PPS to Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary. Fletcher was at the Carlton Club when Chris Pincher got drunk there last week and he said he was offended by the PM’s suggestion that MPs like him were at fault. He said:
As you are aware, early last Thursday morning I had to intervene in a very serious situation at the Carlton Club involving the former deputy chief whip.
I reported the events immediately to the chief whip, who took appropriate action and handled the situation with superb levels of seriousness and care. On Friday, upon my raising concerns around Mr Pincher still having the whip, you and I spoke about the events that had happened on Thursday morning.
I was reassured that shortly after our call you did the right thing and suspended the whip for Mr Pincher. However, in our conversation in the tearoom yesterday, you suggested that the events of that night were the fault of the colleagues who were present for allowing him to drink so much.
Such a view seems to me an attempt to absolve Mr Pincher of his actions and, in so doing, to be an apologist for someone who has committed sexual assault. I am unable to accept such a crass and insensitive interpretation of what happened that night.
I have reached the conclusion that any person who suggests that anyone other than Mr Pincher is solely responsible for what happened that night is unfit to lead our country.
Labour says committee hearings for legislation being cancelled because too many ministers have resigned
In the Commons earlier Conor McGinn, a shadow Cabinet Office minister, used a point of order to say he understood the government had adjourned or “effectively cancelled” committee hearings organised for tomorrow to consider legislation before parliament as they are “unable to provide ministers”. He said:
It seems very much to me that this is a government that has ceased in its ability to govern.
It sounds like the No 10 housekeeping staff have a tricky job tonight. According to the Times’ Steven Swinford, there are now two contingents of cabinet ministers in the building to see Boris Johnson – loyalists who want him to stay and rebels who want him out. They are gathering in different parts of the building.
And Swinford says Sir Graham Brady is now in the Cabinet Office.
My colleague Aubrey Allegretti says Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, has been spotted heading towards Downing Street.
Brady is the ultimate embodiment of the fabled “men in grey suits”, but today he’s wearing blue.
Allegra Stratton resigned as a spokesperson for Boris Johnson after footage was released of her joking about No 10 holding a lockdown busting party in a rehearsal for a televised briefing. She was the first person from No 10 to resign over Partygate, and now works for Bloomberg where she writes a daily email. In tonight’s edition she says watching Sajid Javid in the Commons explain why he felt he could not longer continue to serve Johnson reminded her of her own experience. She says:
Even as they were preparing the prime minister for today’s public ordeals, members of his team told me they believed the game was up.
Others were more bullish: “He’s not going voluntarily,” one said, “regardless of how many people tell him to.”
Ordinarily, Boris Johnson relishes days like today. When I worked for him, in Downing Street, he would flex his arm muscles and gurn like a wrestler in moments of strife. While I maintain he is frequently humble, sweet and kind, he thinks people who resign are, essentially, not political enough.
Listening to Sajid Javid speak after PMQs was tough for a lot of people. The journey that the now-former health secretary described was one that the prime minister has put many of us through.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has posted on Twitter a copy of what she says might be one of Boris Johnson’s last letters as PM.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, has arrived at No 10. Probably the cabinet minister most loyal to Boris Johnson, on her way in she told reporters she wanted him to stay. This is from Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4 News.
Ruth Edwards resigns as PPS to Scottish secretary, accusing government of turning 'blind eye to allegations of sexual assault'
Ruth Edwards has resigned as PPS to Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary. In a post on her Facebook page, she says she can no longer serve in a government “whose leadership has turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual assault within its own ranks”.
As Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke came out of the 1922 Committee meeting, he was asked if the prime minister would still be in post by Monday. He replied: “Have you met anyone in the building that thinks that?”
The Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith has an update on the cabinet rebellion.
Newnight’s Nicholas Watt says that if Boris Johnson refuses to announce his resignation, he will face a cabinet walkout.
And Pippa Crerar from the Mirror says there are tears in Downing Street.
Conservative 1922 Committee decides not to change leadership election rules for now
The Conservative 1922 Committee has decided not to change the leadership election rules, the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reports. But on Monday next week elections will take place for the executive.
My colleague Jessica Elgot says the rules could then be changed by the new executive on Tuesday (although, given what is going in in No 10 at the moment, by then there may be no need).
According to PA Media, Boris Johnson is back in Downing Street. And Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has arrived.
Patel arrives at No 10 as evidence grows that cabinet ministers are mobilising to oust Johnson
Several cabinet ministers are now at Downing Street waiting to see Boris Johnson. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, went in recently, and Priti Patel, the home secretary, arrived by a side entrance, according to PA Media. According to the Times’ Steven Swinford, four other cabinet ministers are saying Johnson should go (although that does not necessarily mean they are there now in person).
Sky’s Beth Rigby says Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, is part of this effort too.
And these are from ITV’s Anushka Asthana.
This is from my colleague Jessica Elgot, who has watched Boris Johnson leaving Portcullis House, where the liasion committee hearing took place.
Johnson eventually rules out calling election if he loses no confidence vote as Tory leader
At the committee Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con) tells Johnson he should consider whether he is an obstacle to the work of the government.
He challenges Johnson to confirm that if he loses the confidence of his MPs and is required to stand down as Tory leader, he will not seek a dissolution of parliament.
Johnson does not answer directly, but he says the last thing people need is an election.
Jenkin says he has not ruled it out.
Johnson replies: “Of course I rule it out.”
Chris Bryant asks Johnson to confirm that he will resign if he loses the confidence of Tory MPs.
Johnson says he does not want to focus on politics.
And that’s it. The session is over.
Johnson is told cabinet ministers are waiting for him at No 10 to tell him to quit
At the liaison committee Boris Johnson was told that some cabinet ministers were waiting for him in Downing Street, ready to tell him to quit. “So you say,” he said.
Meg Hillier (Lab) says 32 ministers and PPS have now resigned. He says if you add those to the 148 MPs who voted against him in the no confidence, that means he has lost the backing of more than half his party.
Beth Rigby from Sky News has more on the delegation of cabinet minister planning to tell Boris Johnson to resign.
Group of cabinet ministers reportedly now calling on PM to resign
A group of cabinet ministers are going to No 10 to tell Boris Johnson to resign, the BBC’s Ione Wells reports.
And this is from the Times’ Henry Zeffman.
Chris Bryant (Lab) is asking the questions now.
Johnson refuses to deny reports that in 2019 he said all the sex pests were voting for him. He says he cannot recall saying that.
And he says he cannot recall calling Chris Pincher “handsy” - but “handsy” is not a word he uses.
He says it is up to Pincher to decide whether he resigns as an MP. But Bryant says Johnson expected Neil Parish to resign as an MP for watching porn in the Commons chamber, and what Pincher did was just as unacceptable, Bryant says.
Johnson says early election won't happen - but also hints it could be justified if MPs blocked PM with mandate
Wragg asks about the Lascelles principles - the rules that are supposed to determine when the Queen will or will not grant a request for an early dissolution of parliament.
You are asking about something that is not going to happen.
Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con) asks why this will not happen.
Johnson says people do not want an election. But he suggests that an election might be justified if people were trying to block a government with a mandate from the electorate.
Q: So do you agree that the Queen should not allow an early election if another person is capable of forming a government.
Johnson says the government should get on with governing.
He says, if the principles are designed to stop wildcat elections, he would be in favour of them.
UPDATE: Johnson said:
You’re asking about something that’s not going to happen, unless everybody is so crazy as to ... you know ...
We are going to get on - I don’t think the people of this country ...
I think history teaches us that the best way to have a period of stability in government and not to have early elections is to allow people with mandates to get on.
William Wragg (Con) is asking the questions now. He suggests Johnson will not be able to replace all the ministers who have resigned.
Johnson does not accept that. He says there are lots of MPs with ambition. When Wragg suggests they may not all be qualified for ministerial office, Johnson replies:
It may be we’re all deluded in our ambitions.
Asked why he appointed Chris Pincher deputy chief whip, Johnson says he was told he had excellent administrative abilities.
Q: Why was Pincher the first person into No 10 on reshuffle day. That suggests you wanted him as chief whip?
Johnson disputes that.
Q: Were concerns expressed about him?
Johnson says concerns were expressed after the appointment was made.
Johnson says he made the appointment. There was then a delay while a matter was cleared up. It was cleared up, and the appointment was announced.
Johnson will not give details. He says he was not told about it at the time. The complaint, “if it was true”, would have been a reason not to appoint Pincher, he says.
He says his team interviewed both people, and resolved the matter.
Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con) asks if it is true that Johnson wanted to make Chris Pincher chief whip.
Johnson says that is not how he recalls it. He wanted to make him deputy chief whip.
Q: What happened to all the messages expressing concerns about Pincher going into No 10 at the time of the reshuffle?
Johnson does not accept that.
Q: But it was referred to the propriety and ethics team?
Johnson says all appointments are vetted by that team.
Back at the liasion committee, the session have now moved on to the questions on integrity matters.
Sir Bob Neill (Con) goes first. How important is truth to you? “Very important,” says Boris Johnson.
Neill asks about the Chris Pincher affair.
Johnson says No 10 should have established a timeline about his knowledge of Pincher allegations. He says by mistake things were said that were not right.
Asked if he accepts what Simon McDonald said in his letter yesterday, Johnson says he does.
He says he was briefed about the allegations against Pincher when he was a Foreign Office minister. But they could not find a record of that in No 10.
Q: But you would remember an allegation of sexual assault?
Johnson says that is not who he would characterise the allegation.
Neill says Chris Pincher was a member of his leadership campaign team. He says it is hard to think Johnson would have forgotten about this.
Johnson says the complaint was not raised with him for a decision. It was raised in the margins of a meeting on something else. He says the Foreign Office dealt with this.
Mike Freer resigns as minister for exports and equalities, saying government 'creating atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people'
Mike Freer has resigned as minister for exports and minister for equalities, saying the government is “moving away from the one nation Conservative party I joined, not least in creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people”. His full resignation letter is here.
The Conservative MP Henry Smith, who has generally been supportive of Boris Johnson until now, has issued a statement saying that “the unnecessary personal decision errors which have been made in Downing Street mean that for the sake of our country we now need new leadership”.
At the liaison committee Darren Jones quotes a passage about what happens when a regime runs out of authorty. It is this quote:
When a regime has been in power too long, when it has fatally exhausted the patience of the people, and when oblivion finally beckons – I am afraid that across the world you can rely on the leaders of that regime to act solely in the interests of self-preservation, and not in the interests of the electorate.
Jones asks Boris Johnson who wrote that.
Knowing full well that he wrote this himself, about Labour, Johnson suggests the author might have been Cicero, or Aristotle, or Montesquieu.
Johnson fails to deny report saying Gove asked him to resign
At the liaison committee Darren Jones (Lab) asks Johnson if Michael Gove asked him to resign today. Boris Johnson refuses to answer, but he does not deny the story.
Tory whips can't find backbenchers to fill vacant ministerial posts, MPs say
Conservative MPs say that they have heard from party whips that there are now no MPs prepared to fill the vacant positions from those who have resigned en masse.
One former minister who has stayed loyal to Johnson told their whip that there were absolutely no terms they were prepared to accept and said the whip had agreed with them.
Another MP said they believed that message had been conveyed in “brusque tones” to Downing Street.
Johnson dismisses claims he won't be able to replace resigning ministers, saying there is 'wealth of talent' in party
At the liaison committee Stephen Crabb (Con) asks how the government will be able to function with the resignation of ministers like Neil O’Brien.
Boris Johnson says when he became an MP there were around 160 Conservative MPs. Now there are around 360. He says there is a “wealth of talent” in the party, implying ministers who resign can be replaced.
Crabb says he thinks Johnson will find it hard to replace the ministers who have gone.
Rachel Maclean resigns as safeguarding minister, saying 'values, principles, integrity and decency matter more than anything'
Rachel Maclean has resigned as minister for safeguarding, saying “values, principles, integrity and decency matter more than anything”.
Back at the liaison committee, Dame Diana Johnson (Lab) asks Boris Johnson if he met Alexander Lebedev, the former KGB agent, without officials when he was foreign secretary in April 2018.
Johnson says he did meet Lebedev, because he used to own the Evening Standard, but he says he cannot remember when.
When pressed, he says he thinks it is correct that he met Lebedev without officials when he was foreign secretary in Italy. Asked if he reported the meeting to his officials, he says he thinks he did.
Johnson was referring to this meeting.
Boris Johnson’s premiership appears to be in its death throes after it emerged that Michael Gove has told him he should quit, as a steady stream of ministers resign from the collapsing government, my colleague Heather Stewart reports.
Heather’s full story is here.
Craig Williams resigns as PPS, saying rebuilding trust now 'impossible' for Johnson
Craig Williams has resigned as PPS to the chancellor. He says he voted for Boris Johnson in the last confidence ballot, but now believes rebuilding trust is “impossible”.
(Technically Williams was PPS to Rishi Sunak, who resigned last night. Given that incoming cabinet ministers often choose new PPSs, Williams may have been half way out this morning anyway.)
The Tory MP Sir Robert Syms says that he thinks Boris Johnson should quit and that he wants the 1922 Committee to change the rules to allow a second no confidence ballot.
At the liaison committee Angus MacNeil (SNP) asks Boris Johnson if he needs the permission of the Queen to call a general election, or if he just informs her one will take place.
Johnson avoids the question, and just says he does not think anyone wants an election.
Duncan Baker resigns as PPS to levelling up department saying he does not have confidence in PM
Duncan Baker has resigned as a PPS to the levelling up department. In a post on his Facebook page he says he does not have confidence in the PM.
In my short time as the MP for North Norfolk, I have spoken out time and time again on matters relating to integrity, leadership and trust.
I must remain true to my values and principles. I have felt for a considerable while that the situation cannot go on.
I do not have confidence in the prime minister and resign my role as a PPS in the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. It has been a real privilege in such a short time to serve in that position and steer through important reforms to help not only my constituency but the country too.
At the liaison committee Boris Johnson is answering questions about Ukraine. It is not obvious from the questions that MPs on the committee have been closely following what is happening elsewhere in the building.
This is from the FT’s Jim Pickard.
And this is from my colleague Peter Walker.
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, and Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, may resign if Boris Johnson insists on contesting another no confidence ballot, instead of accepting he has lost the confidence of Tory MPs, Bloomberg’s Alex Wickham reports.
Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con), the chair, starts by reminding everyone he is on the privileges committee which is investigating whether Boris Johnson lied to parliament about Partygate. He urges MPs not to comment on this matter, and to treat it as effectively sub judice.
Jenkin says they plan to deal with integrity matters at the end of the session. But if Johnson wants to deal with this first, they can ask him now, he says.
Johnson says he is happy to begin with other matters, as the committee planned.
Jenkin accepts that. But he says if Johnson extends his answers to limit the amount of time left for integrity questions at the end, they will keep him longer than the planned 90 minutes.
The committee starts with questions about Ukraine.
Liam Fox, the former international trade secretary, has said that Boris Johnson should resign.
Boris Johnson gives evidence to Commons liaison commtitee
Boris Johnson is due to start giving evidence to the Commons liaison committee at 3pm.
According to the committee, the session will cover “the situation in Ukraine, the government’s response to the rising cost of living and integrity in politics”.
Why it is now looking terminal for Boris Johnson
By my count 15 government ministers have resigned since 6pm last night. Total resignations are much higher than that - around 30 - but the departure of PPSs (of whom there are arguably far too many anyway), trade envoys and Tory party vice-chairs does not matter.
But government ministers have to be replaced. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg would not advocate slimming down the size of government to the extent that a 15-person loss would represent, and this is why increasingly it looks as if Boris Johsnon’s government is in its death throes. It is not at all obvious that Johnson would be able to replace all these ministers. Put bluntly, there are not enough Peter Bones to go round.
Jeremy Corbyn managed for several weeks with dozens of frontbench posts unfilled. But an opposition can function like that (with difficulty). A government can’t.
Mims Davies resigns as employment minister, saying Johnson has failed to uphold 'highest standards in public life'
Mims Davies has resigned as employment minister, saying Boris Johnson has failed to uphold “the highest standards in public life”.
Gove told Johnson this morning he should quit, report claims
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, told Boris Johnson this morning while they were preparing for PMQs that he should quit, the Mail’s John Stevens reports. In his story Stevens says:
At a meeting this morning, the Housing Secretary urged the Prime Minister to stand down.
Mr Gove helped Mr Johnson to prepare for Prime Minister’s Questions, but was noticeably absent from the frontbench as he faced MPs at noon.
Sources have told The Mail+ that beforehand the Cabinet minister told Mr Johnson he should quit.
A spokesman for Mr Gove did not dispute this.
Last night sources close to Gove said that he was not resigning, but Gove himself did not come out publicly and say anything in support of Johnson.
Relations between the two men have always been strained since Gove agreed to run Johnson’s campaign for the Tory leadership in 2016 - only for him to dramatically declare that he was standing himself, because he did not think Johnson was suited to being PM.
Badenoch, O'Brien, Burghart, Rowley and Lopez all quit as ministers in joint resignation
This is a novelty: five ministers have resigned at once, all signing a joint resignation letter saying “it has become increasingly clear that the government cannot function given the issues that have come to light”. They say Boris Johnson should resign.
The five ministers are: Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister (described by the ConservativeHome website recently as a possible outsider candidate for the Tory leadership); Neil O’Brien, the levelling up minister; Alex Burghart, the skills minister; Lee Rowley, the business minister; and Julia Lopez, the minister for media, data and digital infrastructure.
These five are regarded as rising stars, and so this letter is not dissimilar to the Jenrick/Sunak/Dowden article from 2019 mentioned earlier. (See 2.11pm.)
At the post-PMQs lobby briefing, Boris Johnson’s press secretary claimed he still had the support of a majority of his MPs.
She insisted Johnson would fight another confidence vote if it were called. Asked if the prime minister believed he would win it, she said: “Yes.”
She also said appointments to replace the frontbenchers who have resigned since last night would come “over the coming days”.
Last night Robert Largan, the Tory MP for the highly marginal High Peak in Derbyshire, who was first elected in 2019, tweeted a photograph from a Jimmy Eat World gig with the caption: “If not now, when?”
It’s a line from a Jimmy Eat World song called For Me This is Heaven, but in the context it may also provide some insight into Largan’s view on Johnson’s position.
Former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick says Johnson should quit because he is failing to provide 'grip and direction'
Robert Jenrick, the former communities secretary, has declared that he now wants Boris Johnson to quit. Jenrick was sacked by Johnson last autumn, but since then he has continued to be reasonably loyal in public. Now, in a post on his Facebook page, he says Johnson is failing to provide “the coherence, grip and direction that the country needs”. He says:
I have always wanted the prime minister to succeed and I gave him every opportunity to do so. However, it has become painfully clear that we are failing to provide the coherence, grip and direction that the country needs and deserves in these challenging times. I have found it difficult to support the ever-rising tax burden and the government’s failure to deliver essential reforms to our economy and public services, not least the abdication of responsibility to tackle the housing crisis for the benefit of future generations.
More fundamentally there has been a significant and I fear irretrievable loss of trust with the public, confirmed by the mishandling of serious allegations in recent days. If we continue along our present path we risk doing lasting damage to the reputation of the Conservative party for competence and good government and, more importantly, to the standing of politics generally.
I can no longer, in all good conscience, support this.
Jenrick also says he has written to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, saying the party needs a new leader.
In 2019 Johnson’s leadership campaign received a significant boost when Jenrick, Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden wrote a joint article for the Times saying only Johnson as leader could save the party from the “deep peril” it was in. The article was influential because all three were seen as rising stars in the parliamentary party, and none of them were obvious Johnsonites.
Now all three have abandoned him.
David Johnston resigns as PPS to education department, saying Johnson cannot provide country with leadership it needs
David Johnston has resigned as a PPS to the education department. In a post on his Facebook page, he says he does not think Boris Johnson can provide the country with the leadership it needs.
I have said in the House of Commons and elsewhere that as elected politicians we are the custodians of politics. We should uphold the highest standards and act in a way that is best for the country. We should also consider the politicians who will come after us. It is very important to me that we do all we can to encourage good people into politics so that the country is well served, but events in recent months have made the view of politics and politicians worse and will only put more people off entering it, which I deeply regret.
I know from my inbox that there are different views about the prime minister, but I do not believe he can provide the leadership the country needs. I hope those who disagree with this nonetheless understand why I have taken the decision I have. As ever, my main focus will remain trying to be as good a constituency MP as I can be.
Claire Coutinho resigns as PPS to Treasury team, saying 'events of recent weeks' are distraction
And Claire Coutinho has resigned as PPS to the Treasury team. In a post on her Facebook page, she says:
I firmly believe that what we need now, as we deal with the twin challenges of war in Europe and global inflation, is a laser-like grip on reforming our public services so that they work better for our constituents and focus on charting a path to prosperity through what is an increasingly challenging global outlook.
I think the events of recent weeks and months are preventing us from doing that.
Selaine Saxby resigns as PPS to George Eustice, saying 'trust, truth and integrity' are vital in politics
Selaine Saxby has resigned as PPS (parliamentary private secretary) to George Eustice, the environment secretary, saying “trust, truth and integrity” are vital in politics.
The full text of Sajid Javid’s resignation statement to the Commons is now on his website.
PMQs and Sajid Javid's resignation statement - snap verdict
Collectively, PMQs and Sajid Javid’s resignation statement were not only as bad for Boris Johnson as might have been expected, but if anything quite a lot worse. Last night, after the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, it felt as if Johnson had entered the terminal phase of his premiership, but that the end point might not be immediate. Now, in the light of the escalating resignations and the 1922 Committee manoeuvrings (see 11.43pm), the pace seems to be quickening.
Keir Starmer put in one of his best performances against Johnson. He is often at his most effective when speaking as a former DPP, and he was more aggressive with Johnson over the Chris Pincher scandal than might have been expected, presenting this not as an issue of competence or honesty, but as a scandal about No 10 enabling a sexual predator. He also had some good zingers to hand too (eg “charge of the lightweight brigade”). Johnson never really came back from the ropes, and it was striking how his reliance on the usual CCHQ talking points (Corbyn, Brexit, the nuclear deterrent) fell very flat. Watching on TV you cannot judge noise levels in the chamber effectively, but colleagues who were in the press gallery says the silence from those who would normally support the PM was striking.
Sajid Javid is a less polished Commons speaker than Starmer, but his speech, while not quite Geoffrey Howe, was well above damp squib (unlike his last resignation statement). Interestingly, he accused people “at the highest level” in Johnson’s team of lying to him over Partygate. It is hard to say what impact the speech will have on Johnson’s hopes of remaining in office, but it is probably better seen as the opening shot in Javid’s campaign for the Tory leadership, and in this respect it was an undoubted success. He reminded colleagues of the prejudice and disadvantage he has faced throughout his life, briefly but movingly.
Despite what it may seem, I have never been one of life’s quitters.
I didn’t quit when I was told that boys like me didn’t do maths.
I didn’t quit when old school bankers said I didn’t have the right school ties.
I didn’t quit when people in my community told me I couldn’t marry the love of my life.
And he delivered a rebuke to ministers who have not resigned, telling MPs:
I have concluded that the problem starts at the top and I believe that is not going to change and that means that it is for those of us in a position who have responsibility to make that change.
I wish my cabinet colleagues well and I can see they have decided to remain in the cabinet. They will have their own reasons but it is a choice. I know just how difficult that choice is but let’s be clear; not doing something is an active decision.
Many in the Conservative party are fixed on the notion that, in a party leadership contest, “he who wields the knife never wears the crown”. Like much of what passes for Tory collective wisdom, this references back to Margaret Thatcher. But it might be less true than people assume.
The most devastating intervention during the session was an unexpected one. During PMQs the Tory MP Gary Sambrook said that yesterday in the Commons tearoom Johnson told colleagues “there were seven people, MPs, in the Carlton Club last week and one of them should have tried to intervene to stop Chris [Pincher] from drinking so much”. Sambook went on:
As if that wasn’t insulting enough to the people who did try and intervene that night. And then also to the victims that drink was the problem.
Isn’t it the example that the prime minister constantly tries to deflect from the issue, always tries to blame other people for mistakes, and that there is nothing left for him to do other than to take responsibility and resign?
This seemed to sum up the problem in a nutshell. And it explains why support for Johnson is draining away.
Stuart Andrew resigns as housing minister, saying Tories should not have to 'defend the indefensible'
Stuart Andrew has resigned as housing minister, saying Tories should not have to “defend the indefensible”.
Javid says: 'The problem starts at the top and that is not going to change'
Javid says when the first Partygate stories emerged last year he was personally assured, at the highest level, by Johnson’s team that there were no parties in No 10.
He gave interviews where he said that, he says.
He says there has been further evidence of No 10 not being truthful.
You reach a point where “enough is enough”, he says.
He says he welcomes Johnson’s apology last night.
But the reset button can only be pressed so many times. He says something at the top is fundamentally wrong.
I fear that the reset button can only work so many times. There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on and off before you realise something is fundamentally wrong
The problem starts at the top and that is not going to change.
He gave the PM one last chance, but now he has had enough, he says.
He says ministerial colleagues will have their own reasons for staying. He goes on:
But let’s be clear; not doing something is an active decision.
He suggest Johnson’s leadership will damage the reputation of the party in the future.
He says he has been dismayed by the stories of harassment in parliament.
He says he came into politics to do something, not to be someone. If he can continue to contribute from the backbenches, he will.
That’s it. He’s finished.
Javid says 'treading tightrope between loyalty and integrity' became impossible
Javid says there is “so much” long-term reform he planned for health. It was a wrench to leave it behind.
Today he wants to talk about the importance of integrity. Institutions and integrity underpin our democracy. He says he thinks all MPs are motivated by the national interest.
The public expect politicians to maintain honesty and integrity, he says.
MPs “must bring the country together as one nation”.
Javid says he is instinctively a team player.
But treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months. And I will never risk losing my integrity.
Sajid Javid's personal statement
Sajid Javid is now making a personal statement about his resignation.
Yesterday morning he was at the parliamentary prayer breakfast, he says. MPs were told about the importance of seeking common ground.
He says, despite having resigned twice he is not one of life’s quitters. He did not quit when he was told people like him should not study maths, or that he was not the right person to marry his wife.
He says it has been a privilege to be trusted with government responsibilities.
He says Home Office and Treasury decisions were important, but nothing matters more than the health of the people. Caring for people is noble undertaking, he says.
Three Tories have now used PMQs to tell Boris Johnson to resign, 5News’s Andy Bell says.
David Davis (Con) says the ongoing leadership crisis is paralysing government decision making.
Johnson says he disagrees. He is getting on with his “active and energetic programme”, he says.
Peter Dowd (Lab) says, given that the PM does not like walkouts and strikes, what will he do to stop further walkouts and strikes from his government.
Johnson says Nadhim Zahawi’s interviews this morning showed there is a pipeline of supply of talent in his party.
The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey witnessed this in PMQs earlier.
Johnson privately criticised Tory MPs at Carlton Club for not stopping Pincher from drinking too much, MP reveals
Gary Sambrook (Con) says when Johnson toured the tearoom yesterday Johnson said there were seven Tory MPs at the Carlton Club last week. Johnson said they should have intervened to stop Chris Pincher drinking so much. Not only was that offensive to those who did intervene, it should an abdication of responsibility, he says.
That provokes applause from opposition MPs - which is highly unusual at PMQs.
Sambrook has not previously been a vocal critic of Johnson.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, reprimands them for clapping.
Johnson does not address Sambrook’s point, but says it is obvious why Labour MPs want him out.
Andrew Slaughter (Lab) says Johnson’s promise to build 40 new hospitals only exists “in his warped imagination”. In what may be his final PMQs, will Johnson tell the truth?
Johnson says Slaughter is wrong. The government will build them by 2030, he says.
Mark Hendrick (Lab) says Johnson said yesterday he was fed up of people saying things on his behalf. People do that, and say things that are not true. Is that their fault, or the fault of the people briefing them?
Johnson says he takes the Pincher affair very seriously. Pincher is now being investigated through the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, he says.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, intervenes to say we don’t know whether or not Pincher is being investigated under the ICGS because it is a confidential process.
Johnson says the government is helping to lift the blockade that prevents grain being shipped out of Ukraine.
Johnson says he intends to 'hang on in there'
Ian Lavery (Lab) says not a single penny has come for the gigafactory promised in his Wansbeck constituency. He urges the PM to “give them a nudge” so the money gets provided.
Johnson congratulates Lavery on his enthusiasm for this project. The letter was sent last night, he says. He goes on:
Hang on in there - that’s what I’m going to do.
Sir Peter Bottomley (Con) asks about a planning decision to allow new homes in his constituency. Johnson promises a ministerial meeting on the topic.
Matt Western (Lab) says people are struggling to pay their mortgages. How could the PM afford a £150,000 treehouse?
Johnson says, rather than talk about “fantasy infrastructure”, he would rather talk about real infrastructure.
Flick Drummond (Con) asks what can be done to revive high streets.
Johnson offers a meeting with Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary.
Johnson vows to 'keep going' despite calls to quit
Tim Loughton (Con) asks if there are any circumstances in which he would resign.
Johnson suggests he would if he could not follow a policy he supports, like backing Ukraine. But it is the job of a PM with a mandate to carry on, he says.
The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that’s what I’m going to do.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says he recently compared Johnson to Monty Python’s Black Knight. In fact, he is more like the dead parrot.
He says Labour’s Brexit policy means voters no longer have a choice. Will he now hold an election?
Johnson says the reference to Labour’s Brexit policy was not welcomed by Labour MPs. He says Labour wants to take the UK back into the EU.
Jo Churchill resigns as environment minister, criticising Johnson’s 'jocular, self-serving' approach to leadership
Jo Churchill has resigned as an environment minister, criticising Boris Johnson’s “jocular, self-serving” approach to leadership.
Starmer says when he was a prosecutor he heard evidence like that given by the victim of Pincher frequently. He says what is needed is for the whole of the government to go.
Johnson says the government will not give in to union barons. And eight Labour shadow cabinet ministers voted to get rid of the nuclear deterrent. The government is helping half a million people into work, he claims.
Starmer dismisses resigning Tories as 'charge of the lightweight brigade' and says ministers left are 'Z-list of nodding dogs'
Starmer says Johnson’s response was pathetic. And he refers to the Tories resigning as “the charge of the lightweight brigade”. Even Johnson seems to find this amusing.
Starmer explains how the No 10 line on Pincher has changed. And he dismissed Johnson’s team as “a Z-list cast of nodding dogs”.
Johnson says he is focusing on the things that matter to the public.
Starmer says Tories who are resigning now, after everything else, have no integrity. This is the first instance of sinking ships fleeing the rat.
Johnson says, although Starmer talks about integrity, he wanted Jeremy Corbyn to be PM, and he voted more than 40 times against Brexit. And Starmer is under police investigation, he says.
Starmer says Johnson did not deny using the phrase. He says Tory MPs are acting as if this does not matter. And he says when the victim complained about Pincher last week to a Tory whip, she asked if he was gay. He asks Johnson to apologise for that “disgraceful comment”.
Johnson says he acted immediately against Pincher last week. He took the whip away from him.
(In fact, Johnson did not remove the whip from Pincher immediately. Initially he resisted this, saying Pincher’s resignation was enough.)
Starmer says Johnson did not explain why he promoted Pincher. He was reported to have called the MP “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”. Has he ever said that?
Johnson says he is not going to trivialise the matter. A complaint about Pincher was raised with him. “I greatly regret that he continued in office.” He claims people want to hear about other jobs, like the 500,000 new ones created.
Keir Starmer says last week a minister was accused of sexually assaulting a young man. He reads out the man’s account of what happened. That should remind people propping up this PM how serious it is. Why did the PM promote Chris Pincher knowing he had been guilty of predatory behaviour?
Johnson says Pincher is now no longer a whip. And he is being investigated. He say he abhors the abuse of power, in his party or any other party.
Ben Everitt (Con) asks if the PM agrees that people caught with a knife should be jailed.
Johnson says his government has already toughened the sentences for some knife crime offences.
Boris Johnson starts by saying “today is a big day as we implement the biggest tax cut for a decade”. He is talking about the increase in the national insurance threshold.
He names two people in the public gallery today, who he says are typical of the workers who will benefit. Average workers will save £330 a year.
There is laughter as he reads out the standard line about how he has had ministerial meetings today.
Boris Johnson has arrived for PMQs. There is some cheering, and some jeering.
The Tory benches are looking a bit empty, the Sun’s Noa Hoffman reports.
PMQs is starting shortly.
People often dismiss it as a pointless ritual. In many respects, it is. But it does function as a test of a leader’s authority among their own MPs, and if a majority of Conservative MPs have no given up on Boris Johnson, that should be apparent. The puerile yelling at PMQs is normally one of its least attractive features. But today its absence may prove telling.
Here is the list of MPs down to ask a question.
The Conservative 1922 Committee is making contingency plans for a leadership contest to start next week, the Mail’s Jason Groves reports.
Nadhim Zahawi hinted that as chancellor he will unleash a tax-cutting and public spending binge in his morning interviews, according to the Times’ Steven Swinford.
Kitty Donaldson from Bloomberg says the Conservative 1922 Committee could decide to change the rules to allow a second no confidence vote in Boris Johnson next week. A new executive with an anti-Johnson majority is expected to be elected next week, but the current executive was, until recently, fairly evently split between loyalists and critics. But the pool of Johnson loyalists is shrinking by the hour.
Victoria Atkins resigns as Home Office minister, saying 'integrity, decency, respect and professionalism' should matter
Victoria Atkins has resigned as a Home Office minister, saying “integrity, decency, respect and professionalism” should matter.
Tory MP Tom Hunt says after backing PM in first confidence vote he now wants him to quit
Another Tory MP from the 2019 intake, Tom Hunt, has declared he no longer has confidence on Boris Johnson. In a post on his Facebook page, Hunt, who represents Ipswich, says that until recently he backed Johnson, and believed at the time of the last no confidence vote that Johnson deserved “some space to try and turn things around and regain the trust of both the public and the parliamentary Conservative party’.
But now he has changed his mind, Hunt says.
Events of the past week have been the straw that has broken the camel’s back. In a sense one of the worst things about the revelations at the Carlton Club last week was how unsurprising they were to many colleagues. I personally find it hard to believe that the prime minister wasn’t aware of the extent of concerns about the former deputy chief whip. I strongly believe that the situation which occurred last week could have been avoided and I also think that the handling of it subsequently was deeply disappointing.
With two ministerial resignations - Will Quince and Robin Walker - and a promotion of Michelle Donelan to education secretary, the Department for Education is going to see yet another change of personnel at the top at a time when the department is straining to cope with multiple bills and high-profile consultations.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
While we extend a warm welcome to Michelle Donelan as education secretary and wish her well in her new role, we have to express our concern at the high turnover rate of education secretaries. This is the sixth incumbent in eight years and the third during Boris Johnson’s premiership.
Education is a vital public service and a complex sector which requires deep understanding, knowledge and continuity. This constant chopping and changing does not provide stable leadership.
Donelan’s in-tray is stacked high with difficult issues, including rewriting the stalled schools bill, lobbying her old boss Nadhim Zahawi for a teacher pay settlement with an announcement urgently needed, a consultation on childcare ratios, while following up the details of the special education needs and disabilities green paper.
From her old job as universities minister Donelan will still be pushing the long-delayed higher education free speech bill into legislation despite its flaws, and finalising the overhaul of the student loans regime scheduled to come into force next year, and the related lifelong learning entitlement due to go live in 2025.
That’s a lot of departmental management in a short space of time, and the department is struggling to keep up. On top of all that there’s the looming summer A-level and GCSE exam season, a source of bad headlines for ministers as results tumble but civil servants will be hoping that’s the worst of it.
Felicity Buchan resigns as PPS saying Johnson's position 'untenable'
And Felicity Buchan has resigned as a PPS (parliamentary private secretary) to the business department, saying Boris Johnson’s position is “untenable”.
John Glen resigns as Treasury minister, saying he has 'complete lack of confidence' in Johnson's leadership
John Glen has now announced his resignation as a Treasury minister, saying he has “complete lack of confidence” in Boris Johnson’s leadership.
The debate about how Tory MPs might force out Boris Johnson focuses on the notion that elections to the 1922 Committee executive next week could lead to the election of an executive with an anti-Johnson majority that will change the rules and allow another no confidence vote, perhaps before the summer recess or in the autumn.
But, under another scenario, Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee goes to Johnson and tells him that he has already lost the support of a majority of MPs and that he would be best off quitting without a second vote. This is broadly what happened with Theresa May, who announced her resignation after being told that, if she didn’t, the 1922 Committee would schedule a second no confidence vote.
This is from the Spectator’s James Forsyth.
John Glen is about to resign as a Treasury minister, Politico’s Eleni Courea reports.
Sajid Javid will exercise his right as a resigning minister to make a statement to MPs, the Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith reports. It will come after PMQs.
Tory MP Chris Skidmore says PM should quit, saying handling of Pincher scandal 'tantamount to cover-up of sexual abuse'
Chris Skidmore, the former universities minister, has written an open letter to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee, saying he no longer has confidence in Boris Johnson as Tory leader.
He says promoting Chris Pincher to deputy chief whip despite knowing about the sexual misconduct allegations against him, and then not telling the truth about what was known, was “tantamount to an effective cover-up of sexual abuse that would never be tolerated in any normal, functioning workplace”.
In his letter Skidmore says if this had been known at the time of the no confidence vote last month, it is “highly unlikely” that Johnson would have won. But he does not say how he voted himself in that ballot, and at the time of the vote he also declined to disclose this.
This morning’s spate of rolling letters of resignation and no confidence is reminscent of what was dubbed the “chicken coup” against Jeremy Corbyn. It is worth remembering that it didn’t work, and that multiple resignations on their own won’t force out a leader.
But Boris Johnson’s situation is different, for two reasons. First, Corbyn had the firm support of party members, whereas Johnson doesn’t. And, second, under Labour rules, Corbyn was allowed to stand again for the leadership despite losing a vote of no confidence by MPs. The Conservative party rules are different; if MPs change the rules and hold another no confidence vote which Johnson loses, he can’t be a candidate in the subsequent contest.
Tory MP Lee Anderson says he can no longer back Johnson, arguing 'integrity should always come first'
The Conservative MP Lee Anderson has declared that he can no longer support Boris Johnson. Last night my colleague Jessica Elgot argued that the resignation of Jonathan Gullis as a PPS was arguably the most important resignation of the night. That is because Gullis, a “red wall” Tory elected for the first time in 2019 as MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove & Talke, was until very recently a very vocal and enthusiastic supporter of Johnson.
Anderson is in the same category. He does not have a long allegiance to the Conservatives; he was a Labour party member for years, and even worked for Gloria De Piero, the Labour MP in Ashfield, the seat which he won for the Tories in 2019. But - until now at least - he was a passionate advocate for Johnson’s Brexity, anti-woke, levelling up version of Toryism.
Not any more. Here is an extract from what he posted on his Facebook page this morning.
It has come to light that the PM was made aware of a complaint in the past in relation to Mr Pincher’s inappropriate behaviour but then went on to promote Mr Pincher to deputy chief whip which is a position of immense power within government and a role that should look after the interests of government and the welfare of MPs. It is quite obvious this was not a good appointment and to make matters worse number 10 did not act quick enough in removing the whip after Mr Pincher resigned. There was then a denial that the PM had been informed of Mr Pincher’s previous behaviour but after a former senior civil servant challenged this claim number 10 then stated the PM had forgotten he had be told.
I cannot look myself in the mirror and accept this. It is my belief that our PM has got all the big decisions right and guided us through the most difficult time in my life time and I have always backed him to the hilt. That said integrity should always come first and sadly this has not been the case over the past few days.
Tory MP Robert Halfon says he now favours leadership change, saying there has been 'real loss of integrity'
Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow and chair of the Commons education committee, has released a statement saying until now he was opposed to a leadership change, but that he has changed his mind in the light of the Chris Pincher scandal, and what No 10 said about it.
“Not only has there been a real loss of integrity, but a failure of policy,” he says.
Boris Johnson is going to have to conduct a mini reshuffle quite soon. He has two ministers to replace at the Department for Education (Robin Walker and Will Quince), and he needs a new solicitor general to replace Alex Chalk. (There are various PPSs and trade envoys to replace too, but there will be no rush to make those appointments.)
Johnson is due to give evidence to the Commons liaison committee this afternoon at 3pm. Most of the MPs on the committee are very critical of him, and perhaps he is wondering if he can give it a miss, arguing that he needs to focus on the reshuffle instead?
Robin Walker resigns as schools minister, saying he no longer has faith in PM's leadership
Robin Walker has resigned as schools minister, saying he no longer has faith in Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Walker was a minister of state at the Department for Education. A prominent one nation Tory, his father, Peter Walker, was a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet (although seen as a “wet”). In his letter, Walker says he considered Johnson an “instinctive one nation Conservative” but thought the government was now making too many mistakes.
Yesterday Andrew Murrison, the Conservative MP, resigned as a government trade envoy saying he thought Boris Johnson’s position was “unrecoverable”. In an interview this morning with Sky News, he said his decision to quit was a “long burn”. Normally he was an “arch loyalist”, he said. But he said he came to the point where he decided “enough is enough”.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, will be pleased to hear him use that phrase. “Enough is enough” is what she said repeatedly at PMQs last week when making the case for the PM to go.
Murrison said the mood amongst Tory MPs was “fevered”. There was a sense this was “the beginning of the end”, he said, and he said he would be very surprised if there were not further resignations.
Gavin Barwell, who was chief of staff to Theresa May when she was PM, says Nadhim Zahawi is right to say divided parties don’t win elections (see 8.19am) - but wrong to think the party can unite beyind Boris Johnson.
Barwell seems to be right about Tory votes. Last night YouGov released polling showing that, for the first time, more people who voted Conservative in 2019 want Boris Johnson to resign than want him to stay.
In interviews this morning Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor, repeatedly suggested that Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief, was somehow responsible for stirring up Tory opposition to Boris Johnson.
Campbell, who now hosts the excellent the Rest is Politics podcast with former Tory cabinet minister Rory Stewart, seems to welcome his new position as the Conservative party’s number one Labour hate figure.
Sajid Javid did not take questions as he left his home in south-west London this morning after resigning as health secretary last night. According to the Evening Standard, as he got into his car he told journalists: “Morning, thanks for coming. It is good to see you.”
The Tory papers have (mostly) turned on Boris Johnson this morning. Here is a round-up.
If he can stay in office for three more days, Boris Johnson will have served longer as PM than Neville Chamberlain, according to Tom Newton Dunn from Talk TV.
Will Quince resigns as minister, saying he had 'no choice' after using false information from No 10 in interviews
And Will Quince has resigned as minister for children and families. Quince defended Boris Johnson in interviews on Monday and he says he has resigned because he used false information in those interviews that he had been given by No 10.
Quince said he had been given a “categorical assurance” by No 10 that Johnson was not aware of any “specific” allegation made against Pincher when he appointed him to the post of deputy chief whip earlier this year. That was not true.
Quince says in his resignation letter that he spoke to Johnson last night and that Johnson delivered a “sincere apology”. But Quince says he has to resign anyway because he repeated what he was told by No 10 “in good faith”.
Effectively he is saying he regards saying things that are untrue to the public as a resignation matter - even though he was not to blame. There are many of his colleagues who do not apply the same standard, and who have given false information to viewers on the basis of a No 10 briefing but who have not resigned.
In his letter Quince says:
Dear Prime Minister.
Thank you for meeting with me yesterday evening and for your sincere apology regarding the briefings I received from No 10 ahead of Monday’s media round, which we now know to be inaccurate.
It is with great sadness and regret that I feel that I have no choice but to tender my resignation as minister for children and families as I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith.
Laura Trott resigns as PPS in transport department, saying trust in politics 'of upmost importance'
Laura Trott has just resigned as a PPS (parliamentary private secretary). She has posted this on her Facebook page.
I want to update you all, that I have resigned from my role as parliamentary private secretary, to the Department of Transport. Trust in politics is – and must always be – of the upmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost. Thank you to all of you who have written to me expressing your views. I have read them carefully, and taken them into consideration as part of my decision. I have, and will always, put the residents of Sevenoaks and Swanley front and centre of my work in Westminster.
Q: On inflation, there is an argument that you cannot afford tax cuts when inflation is a problem because that will fuel inflation. That is what Rishi Sunak thought. But there is another argument that tax cuts are needed, because they will fuel growth. Is that why you were appointed?
Zahawi says that is not right. He says he was appointed because he would be evidence-led. He will rebuild the economy, and promote growth.
Zahawi has now slipped into talking about the vaccine delivery programme, saying the focus on data, evidence and transparency made it a success. That is what he will do with policy generally, he says.
Robinson says the data and evidence shows that taxes are going up to a record high under this government. Why not tell people the truth? Tough times demand high taxes.
Zahawi says his focus is on promoting growth. 2023 is going to be hard for growth.
Q: Taxes are going up?
Zahawi does say “Yes”, but rapidly moves on.
Zahawi says the PM told him last night to focus on “delivery, delivery, delivery”. But it must be a team effort. He goes on:
Divided teams do not attract votes.
(That does not bode well for Zahawi’s party, in the light of everything else being said by his Tory colleagues today.)
Q: Everything ministers have told us about what No 10 knew about Chris Pincher was untrue. It was only when Simon McDonald spoke out they told the truth?
Zahawi says the PM apologised last night. “In my view that’s good leadership,” Zahawi says (he is referring to apologising for your mistake).
Q: But you and he did not tell the truth when you said he did not know about the Pincher allegations when he appointed him.
Zahawi says he was telling the truth to the best of his knowledge.
He tries to change the subject, and says they have a big challenge ahead.
The people trying to turn the Tories against each other are people like Alastair Campbell, he says.
Robinson says it is “insulting” to claim this crisis has just been created by the government’s opponents.
Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor, is now being interviewed by Nick Robinson on the Today programme.
Q: Why was it in the country’s interests, as against yours, for you to stay in the cabinet?
Because we are facing a global battle against inflation, says Zahawi. And we have war on our continent. Many people are struggling with their bills. Today the biggest personal tax cut in a decade is coming into force (the rise in the national insurance threshold).
Q: Don’t you agree with Rishi Sunak, who said the government should be conducted properly and competently? And don’t you agree with Sajid Javid who said the government should have integrity.
Zahawi says Boris Johnson apologised for the Chris Pincher appointment. He says governments take decision at speed, and don’t get everything right.
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Hamish Mackay.
Tory MPs critical of Boris Johnson claim that a majority of their colleagues are now in favour of replacing him.
Chris Loder, elected MP for West Dorset in 2019, told the Today programme:
I think there is a majority in the party that wants to see change.
I personally have lost confidence in the prime minister now and I’m very sorry to say that. I think he does need to go.
I think if he chooses not to, I think the 1922 Committee should act and I certainly would support that approach in the forthcoming 1922 elections.
And Andrew Bridgen, who has been MP for North West Leicestershire since 2010, told BBC Breakfast that the mood in the party had changed since the two recent byelection defeats. He said:
We are regarded as rebels. We’re not. Well over half the parliamentary party now now want Boris Johnson to leave office. That means we’re the mainstream …
About a month ago we had the no confidence vote. Since then there’s been a lot of buyer’s remorse from those who backed him and it’s only been one-way traffic. I haven’t heard anybody who voted no confidence in the prime minister has changed their mind since then.
Yesterday even arch Boris loyalists on the backbenches had given up.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is next up on the media rounds.
She tells BBC Breakfast that she welcomes the resignations but it is clear Boris Johnson “can no longer provide the leadership that the country desperately needs”.
Echoing Starmer’s comments from last night, she says: “This is [about] much more than changing the person at the top of the Conservative party. Conservative MPs, Conservative ministers are complicit in what has happened in the last few years.”
On the economy, Reeves says: “Britain is stuck, the economy is the weakest it has been for some time, growth is expected next year to be the lowest in the G20, except for Russia.”
She adds: “Bring on a general election … It is time for a fresh start. Labour are ready to provide that leadership.”
That’s it from me for this morning, I’m now handing over to my colleague Andrew Sparrow.
What have Johnson's political opponents said?
Responding to the resignations last night, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “If they [ministers] had a shred of integrity they would have gone months ago. The British public will not be fooled. The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won’t fix that. Only a real change of government can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”
This morning, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said the Conservatives must do their “patriotic duty” and “get rid of Boris Johnson today”.
He told BBC Breakfast the Tories did not have a “serious economic plan” for the country during a cost-of-living crisis, adding that the Lib Dems have been “championing” tax cuts, particularly on VAT.
In a tweet, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon added: “Feels like end might be nigh for Johnson – not a moment too soon. Notable tho that the resigning ministers were only prepared to go when they were lied to – they defended him lying to public. The whole rotten lot need to go.”
The former Tory vice-chair Bim Afolami has been on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The MP for Hitchin and Harpenden resigned yesterday, saying that – despite backing Boris Johnson in the recent confidence vote – the PM no longer had his support.
He tells Today:
The reason why I voted for the prime minister (in the confidence ballot) was that he was clear that he felt he earned the right to rebuild trust in him – rebuild trust in the government – after the issue of parties at Downing Street. I thought that was right, to give him that time.
But I think that in the last few weeks we’ve seen that things haven’t improved. They’ve got a lot worse.
I think the behaviour of Downing Street over the Chris Pincher affair was really appalling. And I, personally, just couldn’t think I could defend that sort of behaviour any longer.
Analysis: PM limps on, but for how long?
It was the blow to Boris Johnson that every one of his backbench critics had been waiting for.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, followed shortly by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, posted their letters of resignation on Twitter, criticising the competence of the government.
Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid’s resignation letters in fullRead more
Neither explicitly mentioned the sexual misconduct and Partygate scandals that have dogged the government for months. Sunak in particular claimed the prompt for his resignation was his differing approach on the economy.
But the backdrop to both resignations was Johnson’s catastrophic handling of the Chris Pincher affair, after he admitted appointing his ally as deputy chief whip despite having been told of misconduct allegations against him.
Just seconds earlier, Johnson had told the cameras that he was sorry for his mistakes in appointing Pincher, and he had toured the House of Commons tearoom saying that “everyone deserves a second chance”.
The problem is that Johnson is not on his second chance but a number much higher than that after scandals such as Partygate, Tory donors funding his flat renovations, his overriding of Security Service advice to give a peerage to Evgeny Lebedev, and attempts to rewrite the standards system.
The two major resignations did not lead to an immediate further deluge of cabinet ministers quitting but Tory MPs critical of Johnson still believe this means the end is nigh for the prime minister.
Next, Zahawi is pressed on teachers’ pay, energy prices and tax cuts. He gives hopeful but non-committal answers on the changes he hopes to make.
He repeats that his aims are fiscal control, tax cuts and getting inflation down.
Zahawi says he will use all the “levers” at his disposal, but doesn’t go into specifics.
On Boris Johnson’s handling of the Chris Pincher revelations, which ultimately led to yesterday’s resignations, Zahawi says the PM – with the benefit of hindsight – has seen he was wrong to appoint Pincher as deputy chief whip and has rightly apologised (the video of that apology is at the top of his blog).
Finally, asked if he thinks the PM is a man of integrity, he (unsurprisingly) says that he does.
What did the new chancellor agree with the PM when appointed last night?
Zahawi says his first job is to “rebuild the economy” and help people in the “global battle against inflation”.
“I want to look at what more I can do to return to growth. The first thing we’ve got to do is make sure we’re really careful, whether that’s public sector pay, that we don’t deepen inflation.”
He’s then asked about the possibility of raising corporation tax. Zahawi responds that he will “look at everything” but wants to make sure the UK is as competitive as possible when trying to entice businesses to invest in the country.
Zahawi denies threatening to quit if not appointed chancellor
The new chancellor is on Sky News. First up, he’s asked why he took a job from a man described by many as a liar.
“You don’t go into this job to have an easy life,” says Nadhim Zahawi, who adds that it would have been easier to walk away than to take this position.
He says there are some “big challenges facing us” and he wants to help solve them.
Pressed on the claim he threatened to resign if he was not appointed chancellor, Zahawi denies that was the case.
“This is a team game,” he says.
Will he run for leader if a vacancy appears?
“There is no vacancy,” he responds.
Who resigned last night, and who replaced them?
The following people resigned from their posts last night:
Rishi Sunak, chancellor
Sajid Javid, health secretary
Bim Afolami, Conservative vice-chair
Alex Chalk, solicitor general
Jonathan Gullis, parliamentary private secretary
Saqib Bhatti, parliamentary private secretary
Nicola Richards, parliamentary private secretary
Virginia Crosbie, parliamentary private secretary
Andrew Murrison, trade envoy
Theo Clarke, trade envoy
The new cabinet appointments are as follows:
Nadhim Zahawi, chancellor
Steve Barclay, health secretary
Michelle Donelan, education secretary
Boris Johnson fighting for political future
At 6pm yesterday, Boris Johnson gave an interview he hoped would stem some of the criticism over his handling of the Chris Pincher allegations. Within two minutes, Sajid Javid had resigned as health secretary. Then Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor.
In total, 10 Tories handed in resignation letters for various of government posts on Tuesday evening, leaving the prime minister fighting for his political future.
Johnson attempted to recover his authority by swiftly appointing Nadhim Zahawi as his chancellor and Steve Barclay as health secretary. But the credibility of the move was undermined as reports emerged that Zahawi had threatened to quit unless he got the job instead of the foreign secretary, Liz Truss.
The resignations of Javid and Sunak, both considered potential future leadership contenders, come at a moment of significant danger for the prime minister. Elections to the 1922 Committee executive next week are expected to strengthen the hand of rebels hoping to call another vote of no confidence.
There is growing expectation among MPs that there will be moves to change the rules to allow a second confidence vote before the summer recess begins on 21 July, a feat previously seen as administratively impossible.
At midday today, Johnson will face the Commons for prime minister’s questions – we’ll bring you live updates from that and all the day’s other political developments as they happen.