‘F*** That’ — Boris Johnson Refuses to Step Down as Resignations Continue

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: New Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to media outside Number
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly vowed to continue to fight for his political life and attempt to cling on to the keys of Number 10 Downing Street after two high-profile resignations from his cabinet and a string of junior ministers quitting their posts have rocked confidence in his ability to hold onto power.

In dramatic Westminster fashion, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak resigned within minutes of each other on Tuesday evening following the admission from Boris Johnson that he was aware of historic sex pest allegations made against Christopher Pincher MP and despite this, still elevated him to become his deputy chief whip.

When pressed on whether the resignations of Javid and Sunak would precipitate his own departure from government, Mr Johnson told an aid on Tuesday evening: “F*** that”, Britain’s paper of record, The Times of London reported.

Continuing into the morning, a series of junior government ministers and other officials have also resigned, including Parliamentary private secretaries Jonathan Gullis, Saqib Bhatti, Nicola Richards, Virginia Crosbie, Laura Trott, Tory Party vice-chairman Bim Afolami, and trade envoys to Morrocco and Kenya, Andrew Murrison and Theodora Clarke.

Three ministers have also tendered their resignations, including Solicitor General Alex Chalk, and education ministers Robin Walker and Will Quince. Economic Secretary to the Treasury, the sixth-most senior ministerial post in the Treasury, MP John Glen also quit his governmental post on Wednesday morning, saying that the “country deserves better” than the “poor judgement” shown by Mr Johnson.

Announcing his departure from the government on Wednesday morning, Mr Quince said that he felt it necessary to resign after spreading false narratives surrounding Johnson’s knowledge of the accusations against Pincher fed to him from Downing Street.

Quince said that he had been given a “categorical assurance” that the PM was not aware of such allegations, yet, on the following day this was reversed with Number 10 claiming that the PM had “forgot” being briefed and Johnson apologising for promoting Pincher.

However, Johnson’s chances of remaining in power have been bolstered by other key members of his cabinet openly stating that they have no intention of resigning, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and Culture Secretary Nadine Dories.

Demonstrating his intentions of battling on, Mr Johnson filled both vacancies in his cabinet in short order, tapping former Downing Street Cheif of Staff Steve Barclay to replace Javid as Health Secretary and former Vaccines Minister and Education Secretary Nadhim Zawahi as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Zawahi’s predecessor, former hedge fund manager Rishi Sunak, had reportedly come to loggerheads with the PM over the issue of tax cuts, with Sunak fearing that reducing the tax burden on the British public — which hit a seventy-year high during his tenure as the top man at the Treasury — could further exacerbate the inflationary spiral currently embroiling the UK economy.

Johnson, on the other hand, keen to bolster his support after facing a confidence vote last month from within his own party, is said to be in favour of cutting taxes amid the cost of living crisis. Following Sunak’s resignation, the PM allegedly told loyalist MPs: “I know you’re all avidly in favour of tax cuts and tonight’s events might make that a bit easier to deliver.”

Appearing on Sky News on Wednesday morning, Chancellor Zawahi said that he would be looking at all options to bolster economic growth, including tax cuts, specifically at scrapping the planned increase of the corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent.

It remains to be seen, however, if the red meat of tax cuts will be enough to appease the calls for Johnson to resign from the backbenchers of his party. With the PM seemingly unwilling to go quietly and the rest of his cabinet appearing to hold firm for now, Rebels will likely turn to the powerful 1922 Committee in the House of Commons, which represents all Tory MPs not in government and has the power to trigger confidence votes against the prime minister.

Johnson survived such a vote last month over the partygate scandal of boozy parties in Downing Street while his government had imposed draconian lockdown measures on the public.  The current rules prohibit another vote from taking place for a year, yet some MPs, including Sir Roger Gale, have called on chairman Sir Graham Brady to amend the rules to allow for another vote on Johnson’s leadership to be held in the aftermath of the Pincher scandal.

The latest scandal has also apparently hit home with the public, with a snap poll from YouGov finding that the number of Britons who want to see Johnson resign has hit an all-time high of 69 per cent. It is also the first time that the polling agency has recorded more Conservatives wanting him to go (54 per cent) rather than stay (33 per cent).

Brexit leader Nigel Farage once again reiterated his call for the PM to step down, writing in The Telegraph: “The truth is that Johnson is not just irretrievably damaging his own personal brand, he is also wrecking the Conservative Party. Enough is enough.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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