Mon, 24 June 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Press releases

Labour Accuses Boris Johnson Of Sacrificing Staff To Save His Own Skin

4 min read

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the Prime Minister of sacrificing staff in order to save his own career after a string of dramatic resignations from Downing Street.

Boris Johnson suffered a major blow to his already bruised authority on Thursday after four senior members of his Downing Street team resigned from their posts, including director of policy Munira Mirza, communications director Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and principle private secretary Martin Reynolds. 

On Friday morning Elena Narozanski, who worked in the Number 10 policy unit, became Johnson’s fifth member of staff to resign in 24 hours.

Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate and net zero secretary, said that “it feels like the captain of the ship is throwing the crew mates overboard to try and save himself”.

“This Prime Minister has shown himself to have no shame [and] no scruples,” Miliband BBC Breakfast.

“He only backs off when he’s cornered, not because he has conscience,” he added. 

“Frankly I think he’s become a stain on our politics. We want him to resign but he doesn’t have the scruples that mean he would resign – all his transgressions are now up to the Conservative Party to hear what people like Mirza are saying and act."

Neither the Met Police, nor civil servant Sue Gray – who are investigating a string of allegations of Downing Street parties during lockdown – have released names of those under investigation, but Johnson's top team are likely to be implicated. Reynolds is the author of the "bring your own booze" email invite to the 20 May garden party at the centre of the scandal. In an apology to the Commons about the incidents earlier this week, Johnson vowed to undertake a shake-up of staff at Number 10. 

On Thursday Mirza, one of the most senior figures in Downing Street, said her sensational resignation was triggered by Johnson's failure to apologise for falsely claiming Keir Starmer failed to prosecute sex offender Jimmy Savile.

The Downing Street director of policy who co-wrote the election-winning 2019 Conservative party manifesto has previously been considered to be a staunch Johnson ally. 

In a letter to Johnson published today by the Spectator magazine, Mirza wrote: "I believe it was wrong for you to imply this week that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing Jimmy Savile to escape justice.

"There was no fair or reasonable basis for that assertion. This was not the usual cut and thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse.

"You tried to clarify your position today but, despite my urging, you did not apologise for the misleading impression you gave."

Defending Johnson this morning, energy minister Greg Hands told Sky News that the Prime Minister “disagrees with the basis” of Mirza’s resignation.

“The Prime Minister was clear on Wednesday that he was referring back to the public apology made by Sir Keir Starmer in 2013,” Hands said.

“It was all about a wider theme of taking responsibility for the failings made in an organisation,” he added.

Hands refused to directly answer a question over whether he would have made the same false accusation about Starmer and Savile as his boss.

“The Prime Minister disagreed with what [Mirza] had to say. That is the important thing here,” Hands said.

“These are all events that happened many years ago, the time is now to move on and look at what the country wants us to focus on, which is recovery from the pandemic, further vaccination rollout, move to net zero and the energy transition."

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Noa Hoffman - Where Are They Now? Neil Carmichael


Political parties