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Chancellor Of Exchequer Calls For Johnson To Go As Education Secretary Resigns


3 min read

Two Cabinet minsters who were appointed to their current posts two days ago have called on the Prime Minister to resign as the number of MPs quitting government roles passes 50.

Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed as Chancellor on Tuesday following Rishi Sunak's resignation, posted a letter on Twitter urging Boris Johnson to go.

"The challenges Britain faces, be it inflation or Putin's war in Ukraine, will not pause for anything, and it is vital that the major offices of state continue to function through a national crisis. If people have thought poorly of me for that decision, it is criticism I am willing to shoulder," he wrote.

"Yesterday, I made clear to the Prime Minister alongside my colleagues in No 10 that there was only one direction where this was going, and that he should leave with dignity. Out of respect, and in the hopes that he would listen to an old friend of 30 years, I kept this counsel private."

Zahawi said he was "heartbroken" that Johnson had not listened to his colleagues, and that the "country deserves a Government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity".

"Prime Minister, you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now," he concluded.

Treasury minister Helen Whately, who was also appointed on Tuesday after precessor Zahawi was made Chancellor, announced on Twitter that she was resigning while also calling on the PM to go.

"Whilst I remain very worried about the prospects of no ministers in the Department as we approach results day – the impact on students is real – as you know, yesterday I pleaded with you to do the right thing and resign for the sake of the country and our Party, both are more important than any one person," she wrote.

Their interventions come after seven further government ministers quit the positions on Thursday morning, bringing the total who have left to over 50 at the time of writing.

Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland secretary and a major ally of Johnson, was among those to quit on Thursday monring. He tweeted a resignation letter in which he said that values of "honesty, integrity and mutual respect" were no longer being upheld, and that he was "now past the point of no return".

In a shock move, the Prime Minister last night sacked the Levelling Up secretary Gove after he reportedly approached Johnson and encouraged him to resign.

A Number 10 source told the BBC: “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."

The sacking was followed, hours later, by the resignation of Welsh Secretary Hart, who wrote "colleagues have done their utmost in public and private to help you turn the ship around, but it is with sadness I fear we have passed the point where this is possible."

It comes after a Downing Street source told PoliticsHome that Johnson is "fighting on", setting up a fresh confidence vote in his leadership – potentially as soon as next week.

The source said the PM believed Tory MPs faced a choice: either a summer of “navel gazing & uncertainty” in a leadership contest, or he and Zahawi “conquering” the cost of living together. 

Correction: Helen Whately was a Treasury minister. An earlier version of this post said she was at the Department for Education.

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