UK: Problems mount for Johnson as four senior aides quit
By Hamed Chapman and Ahmed J Versi
London, (The Muslim News): A quarter of senior aides to Boris Johnson have left Downing Street creating more uncertainty about his future as Prime Minister amid the fallout from whether he can be trusted anymore following the so-called partygate scandal.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, the favourite to replace the embattled Prime Minister, also refused to support Johnson over his attempt to smear opposition Labour Leader, Sir Kier Starmer, over his claim that the Labour Leader failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile, during what the media described as a ‘meltdown’ in the centre of power.
“With regards to the comments, being honest I wouldn’t have said it and I’m glad the Prime Minister clarified what he meant,” Sunak said at Downing Street press conference.
Chief of Staff, Dan Rosenfield, and Private Secretary Martin Reynolds followed the shock resignation of Johnson’s policy chief Munira Mirza, one of his closest political aides, while Communications chief, Jack Doyle, became the fourth to declare he was also departing.
“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,” Mirza bluntly told the Prime Minister in her resignation letter after working with him for 14 years.
But the unprecedented mass walkout was being presented as Johnson ordering a clearout of senior aides in a bid to shore up his troubled premiership and in the face of Sunak priming himself for a leadership bid.
In a round of broadcast interviews Friday, Energy Minister, Greg Hands, insisted the Prime Minister is not “throwing crew overboard to save himself” in response to the recent resignations of four of his top aides, saying Johnson was clear there would be changes in his response to the Sue Gray report update on Monday.
His weakened position comes as Johnson faces a mounting raft of political crises, including the resignation of Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Paul Givan, over the Brexit deal, soaring energy prices, the escalating cost of living and a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
Several Tory MPs have publicly declared to have sent official letters to the party’s 1922 committee seeking a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister but it is not known when the required number of 54 will be reached to hold an internal vote while Johnson also faces being questioned by the police over the series of illegal lockdown parties he has held.
[Photo: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaking at the press conference in Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street]
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