Sir Alan Duncan resigns as Foreign Office minister ahead of Boris Johnson's expected leadership win
Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan has resigned from the Government ahead of Boris Johnson's expected Tory leadership win.
He is expected to be the first of a wave of ministerial departures in advance of Mr Johnson entering Number 10.
Mr Johnson's victory is expected to be confirmed on Tuesday morning, and he will formally take over as Prime Minister from Theresa May the following day.
Sir Alan is a longstanding critic of Mr Johnson, who he served under when he was Foreign Secretary.
The outgoing minister used his resignation letter to take a thinly-veiled swipe at his former boss over the case of jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Sir Alan talked up his own record as a minister, but added: "Rather less successfully, it was disappointing that our efforts to secure an agreement on the future on Cyprus failed, and I remain deeply upset that some fruitful discussions I had initiated about the possible release of Nazanin Ratcliffe were brought to such an abrupt halt."
The British national is currently in prison in Iran on espionage charges, something she and the UK authorities strongly deny.
Mr Johnson has been accused of making her case worse when he was Foreign Secretary, after he wrongly said she has been “teaching” journalists in the Middle Eastern country.
Elsewhere in his resignation letter, Sir Alan said Brexit had made it hard for Britain to do "so much good in the world".
"It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit," he said.
And he heaped praise on Theresa May, saying the Prime Minister "deserved better" than to be forced to quit by her party years ahead of schedule.
Sir Alan said: "On a heartfelt person[al] note, I have known you and Philip for over forty years, through which you have both displayed faultless dignity and an unstinting sense of duty.
"I am only sorry that your three years as Prime Minister have been brought to an end. You deserved better, but please take lasting comfort from the knowledge that your self-esteem can, and will forever, far exceed that of your critics."
Sir Alan's resignation comes after a long-running feud with the Tory leadership frontrunner.
He has previously described Mr Johnson as a "circus act" when it emerged that the former Foreign Secretary had described the French as "turds" over their approach to Brexit during the filming of a fly-on-the-wall documentary on his time in the Foreign Office.
And earlier this month, Sir Alan accused his fellow Tory MP of throwing Sir Kim Darroch, the UK's former ambassador to Washington, "under a bus" by failing to stand up for him over the leaking of top-secret diplomatic cables in which he criticised Donald Trump.
Philip Hammond confirmed this weekend that he will resign as Chancellor after Theresa May's final session of Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday should Mr Johnson be named Tory leader.
“I’m not going to be sacked because I’m going to resign before we get to that point, assuming that Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.
“I understand that his conditions for serving in his Government would include accepting a no-deal exit on 31 October.
“That is not something I could ever sign up to. It's very important that a Prime Minister is able to have a Chancellor who is closely aligned with him in terms of policy and I therefore intend to resign to Theresa May before she goes to the palace to tender her own resignation on Wednesday.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke has said he will follow suit, and up to a dozen ministers are planning to quit rather than serve under Mr Johnson.