Live blog: Will Boris Johnson resign? Prime Minister on the brink as UK Government falls apart
Only last week the UK Government was busy recentralising powers over trade union law, taking funds from devolved areas, and “usurping” control of education from the Welsh Government to Whitehall. And that was after criticism of plans to centralise control over ‘levelling up’ funds.
Today many of the departments that run these key areas are without ministers or secretaries of state to make those decisions. The departments of Levelling Up, Intergovernmental Relations and Wales Office are leaderless.
Will it be harder in future to make the case that the (stable and functioning) devolved governments can’t be trusted to make decisions in these areas, and that Westminster knows best, after the chaos unleashed today?
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has resigned from the UK Government.
Surprisingly perhaps he’s only the third cabinet minister to do so, after Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid. Michael Gove has, of course, been sacked.
“I had desperately hoped that I could avoid writing this letter, but alas there seems no other option left but to step down from my role as Secretary of State for Wales,” Simon Hart said.
“You will be remembered as a Prime Minister with energy, vision, determination and humour. There was never a dull moment as a Minister in your Government, and I will be forever grateful to have been given the chance to be part of it.
“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.”
Another Welsh MP has resigned – Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies has gone as a PPS in the Department of Health and Social Care.
“It is with deep regret that I write to you to tender my resignation as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Care,” he said.
“It has been an honour to assist you and health ministers in this position over the last nine months, and to help this country recover from the Covid pandemic.
“As Prime Minister, you have achieved much that others would simply have found it impossible to achieve — from winning a landslide victory in 2019, to delivering on Brexit, supporting the country through a devastating pandemic and providing steadfast support to Ukraine. Governing is not easy, and you have faced fierce opposition from many who never agreed with the mandate you received to deliver.
“I have strived to offer you my loyalty but regrettably it is clear that the party and the country are no longer governable under your tenure. Integrity and trust must be central to all that we do, but increasingly it has been impossible to defend you in the face of the damaging allegations and perceptions that exist.
“I am greatly saddened by these circumstances. I convey my sincere gratitude for having been given the opportunity to contribute to the workings of government, albeit in a small way.”
It’s being reported that the Prime Minister has fired Michael Gove.
The Levelling Up Secretary was among those who asked Boris Johnson to go this morning.
Gove is – or was – also the Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, with a key role in liaising with the devolved governments. He had been described in the past as the unofficial First Minister of England.
It was announced that Brandon Lewis the Northern Ireland Secretary had resigned, but now there seems to be some uncertainty as to whether that is the case.
Seeing as they are going to run out of ministers by 9pm will we finally see the planned merger of the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland jobs?
— Cathy Owens (@cathy_owens) July 6, 2022
A Celtic Secretary? Simon Jenkins wouldn’t be pleased.
Boris Johnson is insisting to everyone that will listen that he’s not going anywhere. He has a rump cabinet and some 60 MPs still supporting him. How long can he hold out?
Meanwhile, it’s been a long day for the political journalists and could be a long night.
— Sean Ralph (@SeanRalph0405) July 6, 2022
Even Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has previously been loyal to Boris Johnson, is reported to be among the ministers urging Boris Johnson to stand down.
Ms Patel has spoken to the Prime Minister to convey the “overwhelming view” of the parliamentary party.
Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd seem to be keeping quiet about Boris Johnson’s travails, but Scottish Conservatives have been more vocal.
Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross says “more and more” of his colleagues now agree that Boris Johnson should resign.
Mr Ross told the PA news agency: “I said that, at the no confidence vote two or three weeks ago that I could not in good faith continue to have confidence in him and now we are seeing more and more colleagues have reached the same conclusion.”
Asked who he would back in a Tory leadership election, he said: “We will wait and see.”
On whether he would consider throwing his own hat into the ring, he smiled and said: “No definitely not.”
The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle after a short break on her Sandringham estate.
I think that ‘in the pocket’ is the rugby term.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory 1922 Committee, was seen heading towards Downing Street.
He is thought to have entered via the side entrance on Whitehall rather than going through the famous black door of No 10.
His presence comes following a meeting of the committee in Parliament where Tory MPs made their views known about the Prime Minister’s future.
Sir Graham is the keeper of the letters submitted by Conservative MPs calling for the Prime Minister to go.
How many men in grey suits is this going to take?
Boris Johnson will be advised it would be “inappropriate” to seek a snap general election if there is a Tory leadership contest pending, a senior Conservative MP has said.
The MP, who did not want to be named, said senior officials would advise the Prime Minister that it would put the Queen in a “difficult position” if he requested a dissolution of Parliament.
Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, has also told ITV Wales he’s calling on Boris Johnson to go.
Elections to the Tory backbench 1922 Committee will take place on Monday next week, Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke has said.
Following a meeting of the full committee at Westminster Mr Shelbrooke said they had been told nominations will open today and close at midday on Monday.
Voting will take place on Monday afternoon and the result announced in the evening.
But will the Prime Minister really be able to survive for that long without a functioning government?
Meanwhile, Ruth Edwards, the Tory MP for Rushcliffe, has resigned as parliamentary private secretary at the Scottish Office, stating Boris Johnson’s Government “turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual assault within its own ranks”.
There is speculation that the Prime Minister could go for an early General Election as his only escape route from the predicament in which he finds himself.
The only Welsh Prime Minister David Lloyd George played a similar hand before the 1918 United Kingdom general election, when he was supported by a minority of Liberals but won the election in a landslide.
The Prime Minister, who is facing the most serious crisis of his leadership, however, said today that he did not see any reason for a snap general election.
“I have been very clear with you. I see no reason whatever for a general election now. On the contrary, what we need is a stable Government, loving each other as Conservatives, getting on with our priorities,” he told the Commons Liaison Committee, in his final words to MPs after a gruelling encounter.
Another sign of doom for Boris Johnson – Huw Edwards has been deployed to Downing Street. He is the BBC’s go-to broadcaster for a historic moment.
Boris Johnson has told a Welsh Labour MP he will have a new ethics adviser will be replaced “as soon as” he can find one.
Questioned by Chris Bryant, he asked when Lord Geidt, who reportedly resigned over steel tariffs, would be replaced.
“Yes, there will be. As soon as we can find one.”
“I am sure there will be no shortage of candidates,” he told the Liaison Committee.
Discussing the role more generally, the Prime Minister said: “I do think there is an issue and we need to think about it collectively.”
“They can become very exposed and very vulnerable to abuse, to political pressure, to campaigns. They are much more public when they are used to be.”
When asked Chris Bryant whether he said “all the sex pests are supporting me, or words to that effect”, Mr Johnson replied: “People attribute all sorts of things to me. I don’t remember saying those words. But people ascribe all sorts of things to me.”
A group of cabinet ministers, including the Chief Whip, are reported to be about to tell the Prime Minister to resign.
The Times associate political editor Henry Zeffman is reporting that Nadhim Zahawi is among them – a man who has been Chancellor for all of five minutes.
Also reported to be in the group is Welsh Secretary Simon Hart.
It’s hard to know at this point, after over 30 cabinet resignations and Michael Gove telling him to go, what real difference this will make. Unless they take a sack with them and hoist him out of No 10.
Wales’ Education and Welsh Language Minister Jeremy Miles wants a General Election.
The country shouldn’t be waiting with baited breath for the outcome of Tory grandees’ plotting. It’s time to let the people decide.
— Jeremy Miles (@Jeremy_Miles) July 6, 2022
Rachel Maclean, the Home Office minister responsible for safeguarding and tackling sex crimes is the latest MP to resign in protest at Boris Johnson’s handling of the Chris Pincher case.
She said she was quitting because she’d concluded that while Mr Johnson remains in office “it will not be possible” to make progress on the task of improving prosecution rates for sexual offences.
Mr Pincher quit as deputy chief whip after he allegedly groped two male guests at the exclusive Carlton Club.
Here is a list of the 31 MPs who have resigned from the Government in the past 24 hours.
It is the equivalent of around one in five of the total “payroll vote” in the House of Commons, which describes the number of MPs who hold positions from which they would have to resign in order to oppose the Government.
1. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
2. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer
3. Andrew Murrison, trade envoy to Morocco
4. Bim Afolami, Conservative Party vice-chairman
5. Saqib Bhatti, parliamentary private secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care
6. Jonathan Gullis, parliamentary private secretary at the Northern Ireland Office
7. Nicola Richards, parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Transport
8. Virginia Crosbie, parliamentary private secretary at the Welsh Office
9. Theo Clarke, trade envoy to Kenya
10. Alex Chalk, Solicitor General
11. Laura Trott, parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Transport
12. Will Quince, parliamentary under-secretary of state for children and families at the Department for Education
13. Robin Walker, minister of state for school standards at the Department for Education
14. Felicity Buchan, parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15. John Glen, minister of state at the Treasury
16. Victoria Atkins, minister of state for prisons and probation at the Ministry of Justice
17. Jo Churchill, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
18. Stuart Andrew, minister of state for housing at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
19. Selaine Saxby, parliamentary private secretary at the Treasury
20. Claire Coutinho, parliamentary private secretary at the Treasury
21. David Johnston, parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Education
22. Kemi Badenoch, minister of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
23. Julia Lopez, minister of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
24. Lee Rowley, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
25. Neil O’Brien, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
26. Alex Burghart, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Education
27. Mims Davies, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Work & Pensions
28. Duncan Baker, parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
29. Craig Williams, parliamentary private secretary at the Treasury
30. Mark Logan, parliamentary private secretary at the Northern Ireland Office
31. Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state for safeguarding at the Home Office
Craig Williams’ neighbour in Brecon and Montgomeryshire, Fay Jones, has said that she will resign as PPS if Boris Johnson isn’t gone by tomorrow.
Craig Williams, the Welsh MP for Montgomeryshire and PPS to the Chancellor, has also now quit.
He becomes the second Welsh MP to quit after Virginia Crosbie yesterday.
“I am writing to you with deep regret to resign as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,” he said.
“My view has always been that it is important to work as a team and deliver on the priorities that matter most to my constituents in Montgomeryshire.
“The record of this Government, with the challenges we have faced with Covid, cost of living pressures, and war in Europe, is something of which I am immensely proud to have been a part of and will continue to support.
“After the recent vote of confidence, I had given my support to you, with one last benefit of the doubt. I believed it was right that we draw a line under previous events and focus on rebuilding trust with the public and focusing on delivering good policies.
“It has now become apparent over recent days, that this is becoming impossible. It is therefore with deep regret that I resign from your Government.”
You can read more here.
Both campaigners to rejoin the EU and campaigners for Scottish Independence are making much of the fact that the Conservative party is now planning a second vote on Boris Johnson’s future because they’ve changed their mind since the last one.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 6, 2022
The real reason Boris Johnson won’t step down.
Prof. Richard Wyn Jones of the Welsh Governance Centre has asked fellow Welshman and Director of Communications at No 10, Guto Harri, to keep him in post until his presumably already written next column in the Welsh language magazine Barn is published…
A bod yn (uffernol) o hunanol, mi fuasai’n gyfleus iawn petai Boris Johnson *ddim* yn ymddiswyddo cyn i’r rhifyn nesaf o @CylchgrawnBarn ymddangos o’r wasg.
Beth amdani @Guto_Harri?
— Richard Wyn Jones (@RWynJones) July 6, 2022
Both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, similarly titled news services from different spots on the political spectrum, are reporting that ‘Levelling up’ Secretary Michael Gove is leading a delegation of grey suits to Downing Street to tell Boris Johnson that his time is over.
Once again the consequences for devolution in all of this is very interesting. Michael Gove has a very different, much less ‘muscular unionist’ attitude to how to keep the UK Government together to Boris Johnson. Might he fancy another shot at the top job?
Members of the 1922 Committee executive who have the power to remove Conservative party leaders say the rules are likely to be changed this afternoon and a vote of confidence could be triggered tonight.
Meanwhile, the Mirror are reporting that Boris Johnson may not even resign if he loses a vote of no confidence from his own MPs. I’m not sure how that would work given that he would no longer be leader of the Conservative Party.
Might he decide to call a General Election as a last roll of the dice, and take it to the public?
In the meantime, five more ministers have resigned.
This is a good visualisation of how bad things are from Boris Johnson. The chart looks like this because anyone else would have resigned by now:
— Lewis Eldred (@LewisEldred) July 6, 2022
The MP with a Welsh name who isn’t actually Welsh (but of Welsh descent), Huw Merriman, of Bexhill and Battle, has said Boris Johnson would resign if he has “any dignity left”.
The previously-supportive chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “My position today after what’s happened over the last few days, in particular with the Prime Minister blatantly either lying or being incompetent in terms of failing to remember what happened to the deputy chief whip, that just makes his position untenable, in my view.”
David Johnston has also quit as a ministerial aide in the Department for Education.
There have been two more ministerial resignations.
Tory Claire Coutinho has resigned as a parliamentary private secretary to the Treasury.
She wrote on Facebook: “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. I, of course, look forward to continuing to serve all of you to the best of my abilities.”
Selaine Saxby has also resigned as a ministerial aide.
The Tory MP tweeted a photograph of her resignation letter, adding that “with much regret” she “can no longer continue” in her role as a parliamentary private secretary.
Another resignation, this time by Housing Minister Stuart Andrew, who grew up on Anglesey and was a councillor in Wrexham.
He said: “Loyalty and unity are traits that I have always endeavoured to provide for our great party. However, I fear I have let these override my judgement recently. There comes a time when you have to look at your own personal integrity and that time is now. Therefore, given recent events I have no other choice than to resign.
“Our party, particularly our members and more importantly our great country, deserve better. Having a marginal seat I have seen the huge sacrifice our members make in volunteering considerable hours to campaign on our behalf and I cannot, in all good conscience, tolerate them having to defend the indefensible.”
He had previously defected to the Labour party in 1998 before defecting back in 2000.
A very Geoffrey Howe-esque speech by Sajid Javid – with perhaps a deliberately call back with the ‘team captain’ line – but perhaps not quite having the same delivery.
Sajid Javid told the Commons: “I also believe a team is as good as its team captain and a captain is as good as his or her team. So, loyalty must go both ways.”
Geoffrey Howe speech to Margaret Thatcher: “It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain.”
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid is now doing his
leadership resignation speech.
He says that the public expects politicians to serve with “honour and integrity”. “We must bring the country together as one nation,” he says.
“Treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months.”
He says that he was assured that there were no parties in Downing Street and no rules were broken. “I went on those media rounds and said I had been assured by senior members of the Downing Street team,” he said.
“At some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough. I believe that point is now. The reset button can only work so many times.”
He tells his cabinet colleagues: “Not doing something is an active decision.”
“The Conservative mission is all at risk if we cannot hold up our ideals,” he said.
“I’m also concerned about how the next generation will see this house and our role in democracy. The one thing we can control is our own values and behaviours.
“I got into politics to do something, not to be someone.”
Former Brexit minister, Conservative MP David Davis, who has previously called on the Prime Minister to resign asks him to do say again, saying that it is necessary for the government to function.
“I ask him to do the honourable thing and put the interests of the nation before his own interests and before, in his own words, it becomes impossible for the govt to do its job,” he said.
Labour’s Peter Dowd asked: “Given that the Prime Minister doesn’t like walkouts and strikes, what legislation will he be introducing to stop further walkouts and strikes amongst his Cabinet colleagues and (junior) ministers?”
Boris Johnson replied: “I think that the whole House would have observed the brilliant performance on radio this morning by the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that’s no disrespect to the former chancellor of the exchequer, but what I think it shows is that in common with many sectors of the UK economy, there is a ready supply of skilled labour in the upper reaches of the Conservative Party.”
Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns – a former Welsh Secretary – asks about food security and Ukraine, a rare non-resignation related question.
Boris Johnson says that he is trying to lift Vladimir Putin’s blockade on the west of the country. They are spending £10m on rail infrastructure in Ukraine.
Back to business as usual as the next MP asks about whether he misled the house.
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP told Boris Johnson that he was the “best recruiting sergeant for independence we could hope for”.
Boris Johnson responded that the “bonds of our union are strengthened every day”.
— Carrie Harper 🏴 (@CarrieAHarper) July 6, 2022
The SNP’s Ian Blackford said that he had previously compared the Prime Minister to Monty Python’s Black Knight.
“I was wrong. He’s actually the dead parrot. He’s now an ex-Prime Minister.”
Some decent pre-prepared zingers today.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer focused in his questions on the testimony of a man who accused a Conservative former minister of sexual assault.
After reading out the testimony of the man who accused Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher of assault, Sir Keir said: “I accept that is not easy listening, but it is a reminder to all those propping up this Prime Minister just how serious this situation is.
“He knew the accused minister had previously committed predatory behaviour but he promoted him to a position of power anyway. Why?”
Boris Johnson replied that Mr Pincher no longer had his Government job, nor the Conservative whip.
The Prime Minister added: “I want to say to him that I abhor bullying and abuse of power anywhere in Parliament, in this party or in any other party.”
Boris Johnson added that he is not going to “trivialise what happened” when asked if he ever said “Pincher by name, Pincher by nature” by Sir Keir Starmer.
The Labour leader asked him: “None of that explains why he promoted him in the first place. And we have heard it all before. We know who he really is. Before he was found out, he has reported to have said he is handsy. That’s the problem. Pincher by name, Pincher by nature.
“Now, has the Prime Minister ever said words to that effect? And I’m not asking for bluster and half-truth. We’ve all had enough of that. Yes or no?”
The Prime Minister replied: “I am not going to trivialise what happened. Yes, because the very serious complaints have been raised against the member for Tamworth, and they’re now being investigated. It is true. It is true that the complaint was raised when he was in the Foreign Office and the matter was resolved. It is absolutely true.
“It’s absolutely true that it was raised with me. I greatly regret that he continued in office, and I have said that. I have said that before. I have said that before, but it is now a subject of an independent investigation, and that is the right thing.”
Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union Aslef, has said: “It is clear to even the most fervent fan of Boris Johnson, as it has been clear to many of us for years, that there is a moral vacuum at the heart of government.
“With even previously loyal ministers deserting the sinking ship, it is time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing and step down. Not so much for the party – which is uppermost in the minds of most of those Tory MPs who have called on him to – but for the country.
“Nadhim Zahawi and Steve Barclay should be careful, as they accept promotion by a discredited PM, revealed as a serial liar, that they do not get tarnished by the Boris Johnson brush.”
Of ministerial resignations, Keir Starmer says: “This is the first recorded case of the sinking ship fleeting the rat.”
He calls the remaining cabinet members “the charge of the lightweight brigade”.
Boris Johnson may not have resigned but there is an air of resignation on his face at the moment.
Meanwhile, Jo Churchill has resigned as a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In a tweet she said: “It is with a heavy heart that I have this morning tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister. I will not be doing media interviews on this matter.”
Junior Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Jo Churchill said in her resignation letter to the Prime Minister: “Recent events have shown integrity, competence, and judgment are all essential to the role of Prime Minister, while a jocular self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations.
“Our beloved country is facing an uncertain future and strong headwinds, a clear, self-less vision is needed. The country and party deserve better and so with a heavy heart I have decided to resign.”
Mark Drakeford has, perhaps unsurprisingly, called for a change of Prime Minister.
The First Minister of Wales has previously called for Boris Johnson to resign over partygate.
We need a UK Government and a Prime Minister the country can trust.
Instead we have a UK Government solely focused on propping up the Prime Minister as he lurches from one crisis to another.
It’s time for a change.
— Mark Drakeford (@PrifWeinidog) July 6, 2022
Before he sat down Simon Hart called on Mark Drakeford to “drop his ridiculous tourism tax”.
It will be interesting to ponder the impact of the now seemingly inevitable downfall of Boris Johnson’s UK Government on devolution.
Boris Johnson has been a devosceptic Prime Minister and has surrounded himself with devosceptic ministers. Others in his cabinet such as Michael Gove want to take a different approach to dealing with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Could a different Prime Minister see a different approach?
Wales Secretary, Simon Hart, was asked by Plaid Cymru MP “when will he be going?” but refused to answer “that tempting question”.
— Owen Williams 🏴🇺🇦 (@OwsWills) July 6, 2022
Boris Johnson is now on his feet saying that it is a “big day” to laughter and jeers.
Welsh shadow Secretary of State Jo Stevens said that she was “quite surprised to see the Secretary of State here this morning” at Welsh questions before moving on to a timely political issue: “Perhaps he can’t leave this disintegrating government because his passport application is stuck in the queue.”
Welsh questions are continuing but the Commons benches are also now quite full as the PMQ fireworks are about to go off. Perhaps that is less a sign of support for the Prime Minister and more MPs wanting to be able to say that they ‘were there’.
Both the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart and his Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies are staying put for now.
They’re both now on their feet in the House of Commons at Welsh questions – a tough warm-up act for Prime Minister’s Questions later.
The Wales Office PPS Virginia Crosbie resigned last night.
“I am of the view that if you continue in office then you risk irrevocably harming this government, and the Conservative party and will hand the keys of Downing Street to a Labour Party unfit to govern,” she said.
Boris Johnson stands on the brink of being turfed out as Prime Minister as more Government ministers and his own MPs have turned against him today.
We’ll have all the latest, including reaction and analysis from Wales.
Following the highly damaging resignation of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Minister Sajid Javid yesterday, a strong of other resignations have followed this morning.
Children and families minister Will Quince has resigned, saying he had “no choice” after he appeared on television to defend Boris Johnson using Number 10 briefings “which have now been found to be inaccurate”.
Schools minister Robin Walker has also resigned, saying the UK Government has been “overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity”.
Treasury minister John Glen also resigned, telling Boris Johnson “I can no longer reconcile my commitment to the role” with “the complete lack of confidence I have in your continuing leadership of our country”.
Victoria Atkins also resigned as a justice minister, telling Boris Johnson “I can no longer pirouette around our fractured values” and “we can and must be better than this”.
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