The government was rocked by a series of high-profile resignations last night. First to go was Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who said he could no longer “in good conscience” continue serving in the government. He was swiftly followed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who told Boris Johnson in his resignation letter that the public “rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, adding: “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.” There were eight further resignations through the course of the evening, notably including ‘Red Wall’ MP Jonathan Gullis, who quit his role as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Brandon Lewis. Up to this point, Gullis had been a vocal supporter of the PM (to the say the very least).
Speaking to journalists following Javid and Sunak’s resignations, Keir Starmer said he would back a snap election in the coming weeks, declaring: “We need a fresh start for Britain, we need a change of government. This government is collapsing, the Tory party is corrupted, and changing one man at the top of the Tory party won’t fix the problems.” Rachel Reeves echoed this sentiment on the broadcast round this morning, telling Sky News: “Bring on a general election.” The Shadow Chancellor said people are “sick and tired of these lies and an economy and a country that just seems stuck”. She stressed: “It’s not gonna change.” Three further government resignations this morning (Transport Department PPS Laura Trott, children’s minister Will Quince and schools minister Robin Walker) show the number of Conservative MPs who share this view is rapidly increasing.
The government reshuffle last night following the initial resignations – which saw Nadhim Zahawi become Chancellor and Steve Barclay move into the position of Health Secretary – indicates that the Prime Minister intends to cling on to power for as long as possible, however desperate his situation becomes (why change the habit of his premiership after all?). But how long could that feasibly be? The 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers will reportedly meet today to set a timetable for its election. The result of the vote will give further insight into the Conservative Party mood, with some candidates vowing to change the rules to allow another confidence vote in Johnson this year. Remember he won the last one back in June by 211 votes to 148, receiving the backing of just 59% of Tory MPs. Add to that his abysmal handling of the sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, and his days as leader must surely – finally – be numbered.
On LabourList, we have a piece from Wes Streeting on Labour’s plans to set up a National Care Service. Writing yesterday on the 74th birthday of the NHS, the Shadow Health Secretary declared: “[Nye] Bevan said an NHS providing healthcare to all those who need it would be the “most civilised thing in the world”. It’s time we extend that civility and respect to those in need of care.”Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.