Zahawi turns on PM after being named Chancellor as wave of ministers quit government

7 July 2022, 07:50 | Updated: 7 July 2022, 12:53

Tory MPs continue to quit as resignations hit 54
Tory MPs continue to quit as resignations hit 54. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Newly appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has called for the Prime Minister to quit, saying "you must do the right thing and go now".

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In a tweet accompanying a letter, Mr Zahawi said: "Prime Minister: this is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly of all the country. You must do the right thing and go now."

Michelle Donelan has resigned 36 hours after being appointed as Education Secretary. She was appointed to replace Nadhim Zahawi on Tuesday.

She said in a tweet: "With great sadness I must resign from government."

In the last 48-hours Boris Johnson has been hit with 53 resignation letters from members of the Tory Party as he desperately fights to stay In Downing Street.

Mr Johnson fought a torrent of ministerial resignations on Tuesday and Wednesday, as a row about his decision to appoint Chris Pincher added to growing mutiny over a string of recent scandals including Partygate.

The wave of resignations has now continued on Thursday with seven Tory MP's adding their resignations to the list before 8am.

Brandon Lewis told the Prime Minister that he was submitting his resignation with "regret", but said that a divided Conservative party cannot win elections.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, who took over the role in early 2020, told Boris Johnson that the Government had taken "huge strides to level up the economy of Northern Ireland and have not shied away from taking other difficult decisions; confronting the practical issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, advocating for the reproductive rights of women and championing the benefits of integrated education for all".

Read more: Full list of Tory MPs who have quit Boris Johnson's govt

Mr Lewis continued: "A decision to leave Government is never taken lightly, particularly at such a critical time for Northern Ireland. I have taken a lot of time to consider this decision, having outlined my position to you at length last night.

Mr Lewis told the Prime Minister that in recent months, the Conservative Party has been "relentlessly on the defensive, consumed by introspection and in-fighting".

"A divided Party cannot win elections. It cannot deliver for those who trusted us with their votes for the first time in 2019."

Buckland pleads with Boris to 'go now, with some dignity'

Security minister and MP for East Hampshire Damian Hinds wrote on Twitter: "It has been a huge privilege and responsibility to serve as security minister. It shouldn't take the resignation of dozens of colleagues, but for our country, and trust in our democracy, we must have a change of leadership."

In his letter of resignation, he wrote: "...more important than any government or leader are the standards we uphold in public life and faith in our democracy and public administration.

"Because of the serious erosion in these, I have come to the conclusion that the right thing for our country and for our party is for you to stand down as party leader and Prime Minister.

"I had hoped you would take this course sooner, of your own volition. But as it has become clear that you still intend to stay, I cannot continue to serve in your administration."

Read more: What happens next? Timeline for Boris to face second no confidence vote

Boris Johnson has said he has no plans to step down.
Boris Johnson has said he has no plans to step down. Picture: Getty

Science minister George Freeman has written to Boris Johnson to tell him he no longer has confidence in his leadership.

Mr Freeman told Mr Johnson that "the chaos in your Cabinet and No 10 this month is destroying our credibility" and "it can't go on".

His letter stated: "I'm afraid the culmination of your lack of transparency and candour with Parliament (and willingness to ask your ministers to mislead Parliament), your removal of key pillars of the Ministerial code, your handling of your appointment of a deputy chief whip who it turns out you knew had a history of sexual abuse allegations, is too much.

"This is seriously damaging public trust and respect for government, democracy and the law, and this great party's long tradition as the party of standards, character, conduct, integrity and duty to office and country before partisan self-interest."

Guy Opperman, Pensions Minister also quit from his position this morning writing: "I have given you ample opportunity to show real change. Sadly, recent events have shown clearly that the government simply cannot function with you in charge."

Tory MP commends those resigning from PM's government

Chris Philp, Technology Minister, said in his resignation letter: "I’m deeply saddened it has come to this, but the PM should step down given public and Parliamentary confidence has clearly gone, and given the importance of integrity in public life.

"I’m therefore stepping down as Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy now."

Courts Minister, James Cartlidge said he "felt duty bound to remain in post because of the very challenging situation in the Crown Court".

But on Thursday resigned saying it is "clearly impossible to continue".

Helen Whatley, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury also resigned on Thursday morning stating: "With sincere regret I am resigning from HM Government.

"I stood for Parliament because I want to make our country a better place."

Read more: Boris insists 'of course' he'll still be PM tomorrow amid wave of Tory resignations

"Your vision for our country and your mission to level-up has inspired and galvanised people," she added.

"As Exchequer Secretary I have seen this in practice and been proud to play a part. I have argued that you should continue as Prime Minister many times in recent months, but there are only so many times you can apologise and move on. That point has been reached."

'Boris Johnson will take any option other than resignation'

On Wednesday Michael Gove was branded a "snake" by a Downing St source after he joined voices urging Mr Johnson to step down.

"You can't have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully tells the press the leader has to go," said the source according to the BBC.

Mr Johnson phoned Mr Gove on Wednesday evening to tell him he was fired.

Michael Gove is just one of the Cabinet ministers said to have told Mr Johnson he should resign.

Other previously-loyal ministers who are thought to have told Mr Johnson his time as PM is up include home secretary Priti Patel, trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and the newly-appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi.

The group of ministers were thought to have met Mr Johnson at Downing St on Wednesday evening to ask him to step down.

And then on Thursday night Attorney General Suella Braverman called for him go, and even announced her own intentions to run for leader, on ITV's Peston.

But the PM has so far refused to entertain the idea, with his spokesperson saying he "fights on".

Other Cabinet ministers, including Nadine Dorries and Dominic Raab, have remained steadfast in their support for Mr Johnson.

Because of his refusal to resign, the Prime Minister faces the prospect of another confidence vote, orchestrated by the Tory 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

A new executive for the committee will be elected next Monday and could change the leadership rules, allowing for another confidence vote just a month after the last one - which the Prime Minister is expected to lose given the way MPs have deserted him since Tuesday.

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