The new Education Secretary Michelle Donelan has quit after just 36 hours in the role – and moments after the new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi wrote to Boris Johnson, telling him “go now”.
In her resignation later, she said she had “pleaded” with the prime minister on Wednesday to “do the right thing and resign for the sake of our country and our party”.
But she now believed the “only way” to remove him from power was for cabinet to “force your hand”.
This story has been updated. Click here for more as Boris Johnson is to resign today
Ms Donelan’s letter comes moments after Mr Zahawi published his own statement, saying: “My number one priority has and always will be this great country. When asked to become Chancellor, I did it out of loyalty. Not to a man, but loyalty to this country and all it has given me.
“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.
“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.
“I am heartbroken that he hasn’t listened and that he is now undermining the incredible achievements of this Government at this late hour. No one will forget getting Brexit done, keeping a dangerous antisemite out of No10, our handling of covid and our support for Ukraine in its hour of need.
“But 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.”