Johnson sacks Gove in bid to cling on to power
Boris Johnson has sacked his Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove for backing the rebels demanding he leave office.
The embattled Prime Minister’s shock move indicated the extent to which he is determined to cling on to his job.
Mr Gove has remained loyal to Mr Johnson since he became Prime Minister, despite running against him in the 2016 and 2019 Tory leadership races.
This evening he joined a group of ministers and former ministers urging Mr Johnson to leave Downing Street as the list of resignations edged over 40.
David Mundell, the former Scottish Secretary, resigned from his role as trade envoy to New Zealand, just weeks after making his first visit to the country following his appointment.
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart became the third Cabinet minister to resign, following the resignations of Rishi Sunak as Chancellor and Sajid Javid as Health Secretary on Tuesday evening.
The 15 ministers who have resigned is the most in a single day. The previous record was 11 in 1932.
As news of Mr Gove’s sacking spread around Westminster, it emerged that 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady and senior figures including chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris had told Mr Johnson that the “game is up”.
Tory backbenchers including Scottish leader Douglas Ross, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie, together with Craig Tracey, Anna Firth, Aaron Bell and Nickie Aiken have demanded that Mr Johnson resign.
He was warned that he would likely lose another confidence vote and should agree to a ‘more dignified exit’ by setting his own timetable.
But Mr Johnson told them he is going nowhere, effectively daring them to call another confidence vote and saying he will focus on the “hugely important issues facing the country”. There are claims he has told friends ‘if you are going to die, go down fighting’.
Following Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Javid delivered a resignation statement to MPs in which he said he had spent many months giving Mr Johnson the “benefit of the doubt”, but there was a point when “enough is enough”. Rishi Sunak has no plans to make a statement.
Earlier, the 1922 committee stopped short of changing party rules so that the leader can face another vote of confidence immediately – but made clear it is ready to do so quickly if necessary.
Giving evidence to the powerful Liaison Committee before returning to Downing Street, the PM insisted that “of course” he will still be in office on Thursday.
“I cannot for the life of me see how it is responsible just to walk away… particularly not when you have a mandate of the kind we won two, three years ago,’ Mr Johnson said.
The new chancellor Nadhim Zahawi is expected to push for early tax cuts, a reversal of the corporation tax rise to 25% from next April, and a further cut in fuel duty as he tackles a number of severe challenges. Inflation is running at a 40-year high, the cost of borrowing is likely to rise further and the economy is poised to enter recession.
The FTSE 100 closed in positive mood, up 82.3 points at 7,107.77, but the political uncertainty combined with the strength of the dollar has pushed sterling 0.4934% lower to $1.1889. Earlier it fell to $1.877, new low since the early days of the pandemic.
However, talk of a summer emergency budget is running alongside speculation of an early general election.
Rishi Sunak – Chancellor
Sajid Javid – Health Secretary
Simon Hart – Wales
Rachel Maclean – Home Office
Stuart Andrew – Housing
Jo Churchill – Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Victoria Atkins – Prisons and Probation
John Glen – Treasury and City
Robin Walker – School standards
Will Quince – Children and families
Alex Chalk – Solicitor general
Julia Lopez – Culture .
Lee Rowley – Business
Alex Burghart – Education
Neil O’Brien – Levelling up
Kemi Badenoch – Local government
Mims Davies – Employment
Felicity Buchan – parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to the Business Secretary
Laura Trott – PPS to the Transport Secretary
Jonathan Gullis – PPS to the Northern Ireland Secretary
Saqib Bhatti – PPS to the Health Secretary
Nicola Richards – PPS to the Department for Transport
Virginia Crosbie – PPS at the Welsh office
David Johnston – PPS to the Department for Education
Claire Coutinho – PPS to the Treasury
Selaine Saxby – PPS to the Treasury
Duncan Baker – PPS Levelling Up
Danny Kruger – PPS Levelling Up
James Daly – PPS Work and Pensions
Montgomeryshire Craig Williams and Mark Logan
Bim Afolami – vice-chair of the Conservative Party
David Mundell – trade envoy to New Zealand
Theo Clarke – trade envoy to Kenya
Andrew Murrison – trade envoy to Morocco