Cabinet ministers head to Number 10 to tell Boris Johnson to quit

Cabinet ministers, including the new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, have headed into Number 10 to tell Boris Johnson to resign.

The delegation of senior politicians, which also includes Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart and Policing minister Kit Malthouse are joining Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris to tell the PM his position is untenable.

New education secretary Michele Donelan, who was only appointed into the role last night following Nadhim Zahawi’s elevation to chancellor, is also understood to be among the group in Number 10 calling for the PM to resign.

Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates understands they will deliver the “final ultimatum” to Mr Johnson, saying “you go or we do”.

Politics Hub: Chief whip inside Number 10 with ministers – follow live

International Trade Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan was also seen entering Number 10, as well as his loyal Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, and our political editor Beth Rigby says she has been told Home Secretary Priti Patel is inside as well.

Chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady headed to Downing Street following this afternoon’s meeting of the group of Conservative backbench MPs and was expected to meet with the PM.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis are also understood to be supporting the delegation, but are not in London to join their cabinet colleagues.

Mr Kwarteng has already pulled out of a planned media round on Thursday morning amid the crisis over Mr Johnson’s leadership.

Mr Johnson was expected to return to Downing Street after giving evidence to the Liaison Committee over in the House of Commons where he insisted to its members that he will stay in power as it is not “responsible just to walk away”.

But resignations from his government have now hit 38 and several MPs have been publicly tweeting their calls for his departure.

One of the latest to join them is Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely, who said “important debates and important issues… are being drowned out by the incessant noise from Downing Street”.

Meanwhile, the executive of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee has been meeting to discuss whether to change the rules to allow a fresh confidence vote in the prime minister to take place.

The influential group decided it would hold elections for a new executive on Monday, and they could decide on any rule change the very same night.

Resignations from Mr Johnson’s government began on Tuesday after Downing Street admitted he had known about allegations of inappropriate behaviour by disgraced MP Chris Pincher in 2019 before hiring him as deputy chief whip in February.

Ministers had been sent out to defend Mr Johnson and say he did not know about any “specific” allegations.

Mr Pincher resigned from the role last week after further allegations that he groped two men at a private club in London, and he was later suspended from the Conservative Party.

Former senior civil servant Lord McDonald revealed on Tuesday that the PM had been told in person of the 2019 allegations, despite what Downing Street was telling the press.

Less than 12 hours later, Mr Javid and Mr Sunak quit, prompting a flurry of more junior ministers saying they could no longer support Mr Johnson.

Image:
Boris Johnson walks out of Downing Street on July 6, 2022

Earlier, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attacked the PM over his handling of the scandal, reading out the accusations levelled at Mr Pincher as a “reminder to all those propping up this prime minister just how serious the situation is”.

In fiery exchanges at PMQs, the Labour leader said the list of resignations had left him with a “z list cast of nodding dogs” on his frontbench, and that “sinking ships [are] fleeing the rat”.

But Mr Johnson insisted: “The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going, and that’s what I am going to do.”

Meanwhile, facing his second probe of the day in front of the powerful Liaison Committee, Mr Johnson said he will “of course” still be prime minister tomorrow despite facing an avalanche of resignations from members of his government.

Mr Johnson insisted both the truth and accuracy of language are “very important” to him during a line of questioning by Conservative chairman of the Justice Committee Sir Bob Neill.

Meanwhile, William Wragg, a Tory MP who described the PM’s position as “untenable” in January, asked Mr Johnson: “At which point does it become impossible for the Queen’s government to be continued?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I really think you are underestimating the talent, energy and sheer ambition of Members of Parliament, and they want to get things done.”

He added that governments cannot solve problems by “threatening to call elections”.

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