Monday, 3 Oct 2022

Boris Johnson sacks Michael Gove after vowing to 'fight on'

Boris Johnson dramatically sacked Cabinet rival Michael Gove.

The Prime Minister met ministers in Downing Street on Thursday, where he was told he had lost the confidence of the Tory party and could not continue in office.

Mr Gove was thought to have told the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning that it was time for him to quit.

A Number 10 source told the BBC: ‘You cannot have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully briefs the press that he has called for the leader to go. You cannot operate like that.’

James Duddridge, a parliamentary private secretary to the Prime Minister, has said that Boris Johnson is ‘up for a fight’.

Appearing live on Sky News, he said: ‘He is buoyant, he is up for a fight.

‘He knows it is going to be difficult, but he asked me to leave him at Downing Street, come over here, tell members of parliament he has listened, that he is up for a fight, he is going to make some changes, he is going to make some Cabinet appointments today.’

Mr Duddridge indicated that while some ‘major appointments’ will be made by the Prime Minister, it was ‘unlikely’ all will be made tonight.

He said: ‘There is business as usual, things happening. He has consulted with his Cabinet. He’s staying and he is taking things forward.’

Mr Johnson’s relationship with Mr Gove has long been troubled, with the Prime Minister’s leadership campaign in 2016 derailed when his rival withdrew support and decided to run himself.

But it was not only Mr Gove who sought to persuade Mr Johnson that his time in No 10 should end.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart were among the Cabinet ministers telling Mr Johnson to stand down.

Ms Patel was said to have spoken to the Prime Minister to convey the ‘overwhelming view’ of the parliamentary party.

Who has resigned from the government so far?

  • Sajid Javid – health secretary
  • Rishi Sunak – chancellor
  • Will Quince – minister for children and families
  • Alex Chalk – solicitor general
  • Bim Afolami – Tory vice chair
  • Laura Trott – PPS to the Department of Transport
  • Andrew Murrison – trade envoy to Morocco
  • Jonathan Gullis – PPS to the Northern Ireland secretary
  • Saqib Bhatti – PPS to the health secretary
  • Nicola Richards – PPS for the Department for Transport
  • Virginia Crosbie – PPS to the Welsh Office
  • Theo Clarke – trade envoy to Kenya
  • Robin Walker – schools minister
  • John Glen – economic secretary to Treasury
  • Felicity Buchan – PPS to the Department of Business
  • Victoria Atkins – prisons minister
  • Jo Churchill – health minister
  • Stuart Andrew – housing minister
  • Claire Coutinho – PPS to the Treasury
  • Selaine Saxby – PPS to the Treasury
  • David Johnston – PPS to Department for Education
  • Kemi Badenoch – equalities and local government minister
  • Julia Lopez – minister for media, data and digital infrastructure
  • Lee Rowley – minister for industry
  • Neil O’Brien – levelling up minister
  • Alex Burghart – skills minister
  • Mims Davies – employment minister
  • Duncan Baker – PPS for Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities
  • Craig Williams – PPS to the Treasury
  • Rachel Maclean – Home Office minister
  • Mark Logan – PPS to the Northern Ireland Office
  • Mike Freer – Exports and equalities minister
  • Mark Fletcher – PPS to the Department for Business
  • Sara Britcliffe – PPS to the Department for Education
  • Ruth Edwards – PPS to the Scottish Office
  • Peter Gibson – PPS to the Department for International Trade
  • David Duiguid – trade envoy for Angola and Zambia
  • James Sunderland – PPS at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Jacob Young – PPS at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Mr Shapps is thought to have told Mr Johnson that he stood little chance of winning another confidence vote and should instead set out a timetable for a departure on his own terms.

Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed Chancellor on Tuesday, was also thought to be among those taking part in the showdown with Mr Johnson.

But Mr Duddridge denied the reports, saying Mr Zahawi is ‘solidly behind’ the PM.

The PPS went on: ‘He is going to announce a new economic strategy, that is going to happen some time next week.

‘But as a tax-cutting Conservative, I am really pleased to say there will definitely be tax cuts in that speech. I don’t know the details, we’ll have to wait for that, but that is the red meat that the backbenchers wanted.’

Mr Duddridge said he did not know why Mr Gove had been sacked, saying: ‘My job is not to be disrespectful of colleagues. It is simply to pass on the mood of the Prime Minister and say what he’s doing.

‘They were question marks over what he was going to do after the meetings in Downing Street. It’s been very clear he’s moving forward.’

He stressed the backing Mr Johnson got in the 2019 general election, adding: ‘He’s got a 14 million mandate from the British public. He now needs to deliver that.

‘Now is not the time to have a stupid election and look introverted. This is a time to worry about the issue of Ukraine, to get the tax cuts, to get the economy back on track and move forward and he really is up for it.’

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Mr Johnson rejected suggestions on Wednesday that he should seek a ‘more dignified exit’ and will instead fight for his political future – something which could trigger further Cabinet resignations.

A source close to the Prime Minister said he told his colleagues there would be ‘chaos’ if he quit and the party would almost certainly lose the next election.

The source said Mr Johnson was ‘continuing to focus on delivering for the public’ and addressing the ‘hugely important issues facing the country’.

Neither Mr Shapps nor Mr Zahawi are expected to resign, despite the Prime Minister’s refusal to go.

Allies including Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg all remained supportive of Mr Johnson.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab also remained loyal to Mr Johnson and defended him at a session of the backbench 1922 Committee.

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