Welsh Secretary Simon Hart resigns from UK Government – ‘no other option left’
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has resigned from the UK Government, becoming the third member of the cabinet to do so amid Boris Johnson’s leadership crisis.
He said that he had “no other option left” but to resign after being among a delegation of ministers that went to Downing Street to encourage the Prime Minister to step down this afternoon.
It has been a long day in politics for the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP who said that it was “business as usual” just this morning, but had faced being sarcastically waved off by Plaid Cymru MPs.
Simon Hart has been Welsh Secretary since December 2019, when Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns resigned from the role in the run-up to that year’s General Election.
“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,” he 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.”
The Welsh Secretary is the fourth Welsh MP to resign after James Davies, Craig Williams and Virginia Crosbie.
Brecon and Radnorshire’s Fay Jones has said that she will resign as PPS if Boris Johnson isn’t gone by tomorrow.
The Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies was a Parliamentary Private Secretary 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.”
Earlier Craig Williams, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor, quit the UK Government.
“I am writing to you with deep regret to resign as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,” Craig Williams 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.”
Fay Jones, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, has said she will resign as parliamentary private secretary to Mark Spencer, the leader of the House of Commons, if Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister on Thursday.
In her letter to Mr Spencer, Ms Jones wrote: “It is with deep regret that I urge you to press the Prime Minister to go. I have drafted this letter a number of times; after the vote to protect Owen Paterson and when the full extent of Partygate revelations became clear.
“Despite my anger at the Prime Minister’s handling of those events, in January, I believed his promise to deliver a change of culture in 10 Downing Street, and I fully believed he could do it. It is clear to me now that my faith in him was miscalculated.
“While his support of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine has been faultless, and he deserves enormous credit for delivering Brexit and spearheading the vaccine rollout, recent days confirm to me that there is a deep erosion of trust and decency at the heart of Government.
“It saddens me greatly that the Conservative Party is so wounded, I no longer believe the Prime Minister capable of mending those wounds. Serving as a PPS to you has been an honour. You have been supportive and nothing but kind and encouraging to me.
“If the Prime Minister fails to leave office by tomorrow, I will be formally resigning my role as PPS. When I became the Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire, I won first prize in the lottery of life. They deserve to be served by a government fully capable of delivering the vision we promised them.”
Resigning yesterday, Virginia Crosbie, who was only elected under Boris Johnson’s leadership in 2019, said that the Prime Minister’s position was now “untenable”.
“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.
She cited the handling of the Chris Pincher row, after it emerged earlier today that the Prime Minister had “forgotten” about being told of previous allegations of “inappropriate” conduct.
“I have no idea what is happening at Downing Street but it appears you are either badly advised or unable to change or reform the dysfunctional operation at the centre of the government you lead,” she said.
Meanwhile, Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, said that Boris Johnson needed to show that he had control of the party.
“I’ve always said it was essential for the Prime Minister to hold the confidence of our country, party and parliament,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that in recent months the government has struggled to deliver on its important agenda and manifesto commitments that were overwhelmingly endorsed in 2019.
“The Prime Minister must now prove that he can deliver on his mandate.”
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