ransport Secretary Grant Shapps urged Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening to choose a more “dignified exit” than being forced out of No10 by a second confidence vote.
He was one of several Cabinet ministers who spoke to the Prime Minister after a widespread revolt by Tory MPs, with more than 40 resignations of ministers, parliamentary aides and Government envoys within 24 hours.
Mr Shapps told Mr Johnson that he stands “little chance of commanding a majority of the parliamentary party” in a second confidence vote.
He advised the PM that “a more dignified exit would be for him to set his own timetable for an early but orderly departure”.
It comes after one of Mr Johnson’s closest allies, Home Secretary Priti Patel, spoke to him on Wednesday evening and conveyed to him the overwhelming views of the parliamentary party which has moved strongly against him in the last 24 hours. However it is understood he has still refused to resign.
The wave of resignations from the Government began as Sajid Javid resigned as Health Secretary on Tuesday evening minutes before Rishi Sunak dramatically quit as Chancellor. It came after Mr Johnson was forced into a humiliating apology to address the row over ex-deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.
Follow the latest below.
New Cabinet resignation as Wales Secretary quits
The Secretary of State for Wales has become the latest Cabinet resignation.
Simon Hart said he wanted to help Boris Johnson “turn the ship around” but “we have passed the point where this is possible”.
The resignation is the latest to rock the Cabinet since both Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid quit their posts on Tuesday.
The Housing and Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, was also sacked by Boris Johnson, after calling for the PM to resign.
MP compares Johnson ally to propaganda chief
Conservative MP Tim Loughton compared Boris Johnson’s PPS James Duddridge to the former Iraqi propaganda chief known as Comical Ali,
The East Worthing and Shoreham MP said the “game is up” for the Prime Minister.
He told Sky News: “To be sent out by No 10 to give Comical Ali a run for his money is pretty poor and defending the indefensible. The game is up”.
He said Mr Johnson “will have to go one way or the other in the next few days” and that he cannot replace the vacancies left by ministers who have resigned “because frankly, I think he’d really struggle to find people that would now want to serve in his Government”.
Mr Duddridge had told media that the PM could survive, and that he would announce new Cabinet positions.
Boris Johnson has ‘called bluff’ of 1922 committee chair – No 10 source
Boris Johnson has “called the bluff” of the chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs who warned him of the threat of a second confidence vote to force him out, a source close to the PM said on Wednesday, writes Nicholas Cecil, the Standard’s political editor.
He insisted that the Prime Minister has a mandate, from the 2019 general election, of “14m people to get a job done.”
The source added: “If the party wants to stop him they have to take that mandate away. He has called Graham Brady’s (1922 chairman) bluff.
“All Graham could say is that there will be an election on Monday. A new 1922 committee on Tuesday COULD change the rules – but it’s not a given.
“The party COULD then demand a re-run of the no-confidence vote – but not a given. And the party COULD then decide to ditch the PM -but not a given.”
He added: “But the choice is not Boris or no Boris. The choice is a Conservative government with a new Chancellor who will soon outline a new economic programme (of tax cuts, deregulation and the benefits of Brexit)
“Or 3 months of tearing each other apart to elect a leader with no mandate.”
He stressed that this would lead to Opposition calls for a General Election, which if held, he argued the Tories would lose, plunging them out of power for a “long time.”
‘Tories have patriotic duty to end this’, says Ellwood
Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chair of Defence Select Committee, has called for Conservatives to remove Mr Johnson from office.
Mr Ellwood said on Twitter, while linking to a news article on Michael Gove’s sacking: “We have a patriotic duty to conclude this.
“It’s not just damaging the Conservative brand and diminishing our own electoral prospects it is also undermining the nation’s standing internationally.
“Britain is better than this.”
Boris ‘can move on from this’, claims ally
James Duddridge has added he believes that while Boris Johnson “has made some mistakes”, he “can move on from this”.
Mr Johnson’s parliamentary private secretary told Sky News he believed Mr Johnson was still the right man for the top job.
“I mean, he’s got an electoral magic that he showed as mayor of London. I believe he’ll deliver Brexit, I believe he’s the best person still,” he said.
Describing the afternoon’s events at No 10, he said: “A number of cabinet people turned up, they had chats with his team, they had a chat with him. At various points he made it clear that he was fighting on”.
He also claimed there were “plenty of people keen, willing and able to serve and will do so under Boris Johnson,” after a sensational 41 resignations from Government since Tuesday evening.
Another vacancy has also been left in the Cabinet after Mr Johnson sensationally sacked Michael Gove, the Housing and Levelling Up Secretary.
Boris ally: PM is ‘up for a fight and will make Cabinet appointments today’
James Duddridge, a parliamentary private secretary to the Prime Minister, has said that Boris Johnson is “up for a fight”.
Appearing live on Sky News, he said: “He is buoyant, he is up for a fight.
“He knows it is going to be difficult, but he asked me to leave him at Downing Street, come over here, tell members of parliament he has listened, that he is up for a fight, he is going to make some changes, he is going to make some Cabinet appointments today.”
Mr Duddridge claimed the newly-appointed Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, was “solidly behind” Mr Johnson.
“He is going to announce a new economic strategy, that is going to happen some time next week,” he said.
“But as a tax-cutting Conservative, I am really pleased to say there will definitely be tax cuts in that speech”.
PPS resigns in apparent backlash to Gove sacking
Another parliamentary private secretary has resigned, this time in protest at Boris Johnson’s sacking of Michael Gove.
Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, said: “Very sorry indeed to hear @michaelgove has been fired by the PM. As I told No 10 earlier today it should be the PM leaving office”.
Mr Kruger had been a PPS in Mr Gove’s department. This brings the number of resignations from Government up to 42 since Tuesday evening.
Dorries remains supportive of Johnson after Gove sacking
Johnson loyalist, Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, has made clear her support remains behind the PM, after his dramatic sacking of the Housing Secretary, Michael Gove.
“The PM’s priority is to stabilise the government, set a clear direction for the country and continue to deliver on the promises he made and the British public voted for,” she tweeted.
Another PPS and trade envoy resign, bringing resignations to 41
Another trade envoy and a parliamentary private secretary have quit their roles, with the number of resignations since Tuesday now over 40.
James Daly, MP for Bury North, has quit as PPS at the DWP, saying he did not believe Boris Johnson could lead the Government.
Meanwhile, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, David Mundell, quit as UK Trade Envoy to New Zealand after he said he was “disappointed” Boris Johnson had not already stood down.
Their resignations came just minutes after Michael Gove, the Housing and Levelling Up Secretary, was dramatically sacked by Boris Johnson.
Mr Gove had earlier Wednesday advised Mr Johnson to resign, but Mr Johnson has defiantly vowed to stay on.