Downing Street has been rocked by a wave of resignations from the prime minister’s team with a fifth advisor announcing their’s this morning (February 4).
In just a few hours, Boris Johnson lost four key members of his leadership team, starting with head of policy Munira Mirza’s shock exit. Hers was quickly followed by the resignations of Downing Street’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, the PM’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds, and Johnson’s director of communications Jack Doyle.
The latest senior aide to leave No 10 is Elena Narozanski, who worked alongside Mirza in Downing Street’s policy unit. Senior government sources have speculated “there could be further resignations” from Downing Street 10 staff who are “deeply loyal” to Mirza.
She quit as Downing Street’s head of policy over Johnson’s failure to apologise over using a far-right slur about Sir Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile. The PM made the remark during Monday’s fractious session in the Commons following the release of the Sue Gray report ‘update’.
When asked yesterday about Johnson’s attempt to smear the leader of the opposition, one of the favourites to succeed the PM in No 10, chancellor Rishi Sunak pointedly remarked: “Being honest, I wouldn’t have said it”.
More resignations to follow Munira’s Downing Street exit
Munira’s sensational announcement is highly damaging to Johnson who loses a long time ally and important advisor for 14 years, including a key role when he was London mayor.
Johnson once said of Munira: “She has, all told, the most powerful nonsense-detector I have ever seen.”
The Times reports that “Johnson loyalists” have told backbenchers to use social media to voice their support for the PM and “to make the case that the clear out of staff from No 10 had been long planned, according to leaked WhatsApp messages.”
Energy minister Greg Hands told Sky News: “The prime minister was absolutely clear on Monday that there would be changes at the top of No 10 and that is what he has delivered.”
Johnson today told the remaining members of his Downing Street team that “change is good”, in a reference to Disney’s Lion King, his spokesperson confirmed.
PM is ‘a stain on our politics’, says Miliband
Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader and now shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero, said Johnson has “become a stain on our politics” after repeating a far-right slur about Starmer.
“It feels like the captain of the ship is throwing crewmates overboard to save himself,” Miliband told BBC Breakfast.
“Frankly, I think he’s become a stain on our politics and we want him to resign.”
PM takes jet plane to Blackpool
Johnson is embroiled in fresh claims of hypocrisy after it was revealed on LBC that the PM drove to Stansted to take the government jet to get to Blackpool.
Environmentalists are outraged at the indulgence that saved Johnson 50 minutes on a journey that takes a total three-and-a-half hours – 17 minutes in car from Downing Street to Euston for 3 hour 7 minutes train to Blackpool – but cost several tonnes in carbon rich aviation fuel.
The cost to tax payers has not been determined. Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the trip is yet another example of a profligate government being wasteful with tax payers money.
Downing Street defended the choice saying the prime minister uses a range of transport, including planes, trains and automobiles for security and logistical reasons.
“Flying to Blackpool sends entirely the wrong message about what sort of transport future we want,” said Paul Tuohy, CEO of Campaign for Better Transport.
“This is shocking from a prime minister who talks the talk on tackling climate change. Boris Johnson should have caught the train instead and emitted a tiny fraction of the carbon emissions.”
The government jet that took Johnson to Blackpool is the same liveried jumbo that took him back and forth to the G7 meeting in Cornwall and also trade secretary Liz Truss on her recent trip to Australia. Truss’ trip has been estimated cost to have cost the tax payer £500,000.
The resignations from Downing Street under Johnson’s tenure
- Chief Strategic Adviser (then chief of staff) – Lord Udny-Lister
- Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister – Dominic Cummings
- Director of Communications – Lee Cain
- Press Secretary – Allegra Stratton
- Director of Communications – James Slack
- Director of Legislative Affairs – Nikki da Costa
- Head of the Union Unit – Oliver Lewis
- Head of Policy – Munira Mirza
- Policy Unit Advisor – Elena Narozanski
- Chief of Staff – Jack Doyle
- Director of Communication – Dan Rosenfield
- Principal Private Secretary – Martin Reynolds –
- Cabinet Secretary – Mark Sedwill
- Brexit minister – Lord David Frost