Boris Johnson is set to face MPs in the House of Commons today less than 24 hours after two senior ministers resigned from their roles.
In what was a devastating blow to the Prime Minister, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, handed in their resignation letters yesterday evening and stepped down from their roles as two of Boris Johnson’s most senior and trusted cabinet members during his time in office.
In Mr Sunak’s shock resignation letter posted to Twitter, he stressed that he had been “loyal” to the Prime Minister over the years, but that he had now concluded their “approaches are fundamentally too different”.
“I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth,” he added in his letter.
“Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one. I am sad to be leaving Government – but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this.”
Similarly, Sajid Javid said in his resignation letter that the British public “rightfully expect integrity from their government”, adding: “The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country.
“Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.
“Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither.”
He added that last month’s vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister showed “humility, grip and new direction,” and that it is “clear” to him that “this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.”
Mr Sunak and Mr Javid announcing they would be stepping down yesterday evening subsequently lead to a wave of other resignations, with a total of 10 Conservative MPs announcing they would be leaving their positions – two cabinet ministers, one minister, four parliamentary private secretaries, one vice chair, and two trade envoys.
All resignations were in the wake of the Prime Minister’s handling of the ongoing row over MP Chris Pincher’s conduct – who quit as deputy chief whip last week after claims that he groped two men at a private members’ club.
Mr Johnson had been told about concerns around Mr Pincher’s behaviour dating back several years, and after having several MPs and ministers publicly deny that he had any knowledge of this, eventually admitted in interviews this week to knowing about the claims when he the “bad mistake” to promote Mr Pincher to chief whip.
It has been confirmed that Nadhim Zahawi has been named the new Chancellor, and Steve Barclay has become Health Secretary.
The Prime Minister will now face MPs in the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) today from 12pm – which is less than 24 hours after the resignations.
He is expected to be quizzed on a range of topics, including “integrity in politics”, the rule of law, and Ukraine and its impacts on the UK – but of course, he will most likely be hit with questions over his handling of Mr Pincher’s promotion, the resignations of last night, and other pressing issues.
The Pincher row is the latest issue to prompt Conservative MPs to question the Prime Minister’s leadership and direction of the current government – which has been dogged by a series of controversies in recent months.
The ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal and the police investigation into parties in Downing Street during lockdown has grabbed most of the headlines this year, but other Tory MPs have also expressed dissent over tax rises, the government’s response to rising cost of living crisis, and its policy direction going forward.
A recent snap YouGov poll of more than 3,000 people has found that seven in 10 Brits think Mr Johnson should resign as Prime Minister – but he has reportedly told allies that he intends to fight on despite the resignations.
Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said he would welcome a snap election and that the country needed a change of government, adding: “After all the sleaze, all the failure, it’s clear that this Tory government is now collapsing.”
A Number 10 source said the PM is determined to “deliver what he promised the people”.
Major property developer criticised for ‘anti-sex worker’ billboard in Manchester city centre
One of Manchester’s most recognised property development companies has faced backlash this week for a ‘disgraceful’ billboard placed beside its newest residential site.
The enormous advertisement was erected beside Capital & Centric’s Crusader Mill and Phoenix developments in Piccadilly East.
On it are the words ‘From red light, to green light’ – a slogan that’s been branded as a ‘discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard’ by a local charity.
Capital & Centric has now acknowledged that people ‘don’t like the banner’ and said that it will be changed.
MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) offers support to women who sex work – be it for emotional wellbeing or sexual health – and has its headquarters near to the new billboard.
They wrote: “We’re saddened that a discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard has been put up nr MASH.
“If we want Manchester to be a welcoming city where all can thrive, this isn’t the way.
“We stand with sex workers, always. Help to counteract the hate by supporting us mash.org.uk/donate.”
On Twitter, one person said: “Disgraceful for a property developer to espouse any kind of morality over sex workers who were here decades before them ~on a literal billboard~. @CapitalCentric you should be ashamed of this.”
Someone else said: “Unbelievably poor taste advertising from so-called social impact investors at @CapitalCentric.”
Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital&Centric, said: “There’s been a handful of comments on social media from people who don’t like the banner. We never want to cause upset, so it’s being changed.
“Anyone who’s followed us will know about our efforts to have positive social impacts on the communities where we work.
“From building new homes and creating inclusive neighbourhoods, to actively supporting those most in need by working with frontline homeless charities.”
A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of an advertising banner installed by Capital and Centric in the Piccadilly area.
“We understand that this banner was not intended to cause offence and they have agreed to remove it.
“Capital and Centric play an important role in the city’s development, working with a number of voluntary and community organisations in this area, and have apologised for any unintentional upset caused by this marketing campaign.”
Featured image: The Manc Group
The public will get to have their say on the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – but not until 2023
New reports have suggested that the Greater Manchester public are to be consulted on the latest Clean Air Zone (CAZ) proposals – but this won’t be done any time soon.
The closest thing to a public response from the government on the plan was when environment secretary George Eustice said he believed there was “little robust evidence” that it will work effectively.
Mr Eustace suggested that taxis, vans, buses, and lorries should still be charged in the city centre.
It’s now being reported that, ahead GMCA’s plan for a non-charging CAZ is to be formally-submitted to the government in its final form following a meeting on 16 August, ‘targeted engagement’ is currently taking place on the proposal and an online survey for some motorists is set to launch in a couple of weeks – but this will not go out to everyone.
ITV Granada reports that transport bosses have confirmed the wider public will not be able to have their say on the new proposals until early 2023.
This has already been met with criticism from industry leaders and campaign groups.
Prominently addressing the fact the public will not be consulted on plans until 2023, spokesperson for RethinkGM – a campaign group set up in opposition to the Greater Manchester Clear Air Zone – said: “It is extremely disappointing that leadership of Greater Manchester continue to ignore the public and residents of the region once again, by leaving public consultation on any CAZ scheme until early 2023.
“With a national cost of living crisis currently under way and residents now choosing between eating, heating and survival, GMCA still fail in their duty to residents and maintain their ill-advised attempt to impose further unnecessary limitations on livelihoods.
“It is quite clear that this scheme now needs scrapping in full and consideration given to the poor, low paid, business and those suffering above all else.”