Following a historic day that witnessed more than 40 resignations and the sacking of Michael Gove, Boris Johnson found himself in an unprecedented standoff with his own cabinet.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, and the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, led a group of senior cabinet members who personally urged the prime minister to resign, but the prime minister appeared resolved to battle on.
When asked if the resignations of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak would lead to his own resignation, Mr Johnson told an aid on Tuesday evening, “F*** that,” according to Britain’s newspaper of record, The Times of London.
Rather than resigning, Johnson also responded by firing Gove as levelling up secretary. In a face-to-face discussion with the prime minister earlier, Gove had expressed his belief that the number of MPs who had turned against him made his position untenable.
In line with Gove’s dismissal, Johnson’s allies reportedly referred to him as a “snake.” They stated that the prime minister had no intention of stepping down. “He wants to stay and fight,” a Downing Street source said. A summer of navel-gazing and insecurity, or a new partnership that finally moves forward and addresses the cost of living crisis while growing the economy.
“It’s not quite as bad as people thought a few hours ago.”
A number of junior government ministers and other officials, including Parliamentary private secretaries Jonathan Gullis, Saqib Bhatti, Nicola Richards, Virginia Crosbie, Laura Trott, Tory Party vice-chairman Bim Afolami, and trade envoys to Morocco and Kenya, Andrew Murrison and Theodora Clarke, have also resigned.
Three other ministers have resigned, including Solicitor General Alex Chalk and education ministers Robin Walker and Will Quince. Economic Secretary to the Treasury, the Treasury’s sixth-most senior ministerial post, MP John Glen, also resigned on Wednesday morning, saying that the “country deserves better” than Mr Johnson’s “poor judgement.”
Despite the dozens of resignations, the allies of the Prime Minister said: “He’s naturally just immovable in terms of his bullishness. He’ll say that millions of people voted for me only two years ago, and that I’m going to fight this until the bitter end.”