Boris Johnson refuses to resign and sacks Michael Gove following calls to quit from Cabinet colleagues

Reports suggest Boris Johnson has refused to resign despite being urged to do so by his Cabinet colleagues as support for his leadership has collapsed with 39 MPs, including Cabinet members, now believed to have resigned.

The Prime Minister met ministers in No 10 this evening (July 6), where he was told he had lost the confidence of the Tory party and could not continue in office.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart were among the Cabinet ministers telling Mr Johnson to stand down.

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According to the PA news agency, Ms Patel, who has previously spoken out in support Boris Johnson, spoke to the Prime Minister to convey the “overwhelming view” of the parliamentary party.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly refused to resign despite being pushed to do so by Cabinet colleagues.

One of those who has reportedly told Mr Johnson to go is Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove who has now been sacked by the Prime Minister.

Mr Shapps is thought to have told Mr Johnson that he stood little chance of winning another confidence vote and should instead set out a timetable for a departure on his own terms.

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Reports even suggested Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed Chancellor on Tuesday, was among those taking part in the showdown with Mr Johnson.

But Mr Johnson is believed to have rejected suggestions he should seek a “more dignified exit” and will instead fight for his political future – something which could trigger further Cabinet resignations.

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A source close to the Prime Minister said he told his colleagues there would be “chaos” if he quit and the party would almost certainly lose the next election.

The source said Mr Johnson was “continuing to focus on delivering for the public” and addressing the “hugely important issues facing the country”.

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The Prime Minister is believed to have retained some Cabinet support during the meeting including Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The showdown meeting came after the Prime Minister had faced an intense grilling before opposition critics and Tory MPs alike on the Commons Liaison Committee.

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After being repeatedly pressed for a direct answer, Mr Johnson said "of course" he ruled out triggering a general election if the Tories force him from office.

Told that there was a delegation of Cabinet ministers waiting for him at Downing Street, Mr Johnson referred to the invasion of Ukraine and said "I can't for the life of me see how it is responsible just to walk away from that".

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The mass resignation of ministers, along with a string of parliamentary aides, came after Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid quit their Cabinet posts on Tuesday evening.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson said the "colossal mandate" he had been handed by voters in 2019 means he should keep going despite the "difficult circumstances" he faces.

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But Mr Javid's resignation statement in the House laid bare the scale of the problems facing the Prime Minister - and he challenged other Cabinet ministers to consider their positions.

The Prime Minister stayed in the Commons chamber as former health secretary Mr Javid set out the reasons for his resignation, saying Mr Johnson was not going to change and "enough is enough".

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Mr Javid said: "Treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months.

"I will never risk losing my integrity."

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He said "the problem starts at the top and I believe that is not going to change".

In a message to Cabinet ministers who decided not to quit, he said: "Not doing something is an active decision.

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"I'm deeply concerned about how the next generation will see the Conservative Party on our current course.

"It is incumbent on all of us to set high standards for ourselves and to take action when they are not met by others."

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Ultimately, the Prime Minister’s fate may be taken out of his hands as Tory back-benchers look to push through changes to the Conservative 1922 Committee to enable them to have a second vote of confidence in the Prime Minister.

Under current regulations his leadership cannot be challenged for 12 months since the last vote.

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Fourteen of the ministers to quit on Wednesday were Will Quince, Robin Walker, John Glen, Victoria Atkins, Jo Churchill, Stuart Andrew, Kemi Badenoch, Neil O'Brien, Alex Burghart, Lee Rowley, Julia Lopez, Mims Davies, Rachel Maclean and Mike Freer.

In their resignation letters:

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- Ex-children and families minister Mr Quince said he could not accept being sent out to defend the Prime Minister on television with inaccurate information over the Chris Pincher row.

- Former justice minister Ms Atkins told Mr Johnson: "I can no longer pirouette around our fractured values. We can and must do better than this."

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- Ms Churchill quit as environment minister, saying: "Recent events have shown integrity, competence and judgment are all essential to the role of Prime Minister, while a jocular self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations."

- Ms Maclean, who announced her resignation as a Home Office minister while Mr Johnson was giving evidence to the Liaison Committee of senior MPs, said the Prime Minister should "resign for the good of the country and our party".

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- Mr Freer said he was quitting as equalities minister, complaining about "creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people", adding "I can no longer defend policies I fundamentally disagree with".

Laura Trott, Felicity Buchan, Selaine Saxby, Claire Coutinho, David Johnston, Duncan Baker, Craig Williams and Mark Logan resigned as ministerial aides, while Fay Jones said she would quit on Thursday unless the Prime Minister goes.

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MPs on the backbenches were also turning away from the Prime Minister.

Education Select Committee chairman Rob Halfon said he would back a change in leadership, criticising not only a "real loss of integrity" but also "a failure of policy".

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Transport Select Committee chairman Huw Merriman told the BBC Mr Johnson should resign if he has "any dignity left".

Former Cabinet ministers Robert Jenrick and Liam Fox withdrew their support.

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Mr Quince was one of the ministers sent on the airwaves to defend Mr Johnson's position over Mr Pincher, who quit as deputy chief whip after allegedly assaulting two men while drunk at London's Carlton Club.

The Prime Minister later acknowledged he had previously been informed of allegations against Mr Pincher dating back to 2019 and said he regretted keeping him in government beyond that point.

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Mr Quince said he had received a "sincere apology" from Mr Johnson for being sent out with an "inaccurate" briefing about the Prime Minister's knowledge of events.

The Prime Minister's authority had already been damaged by a confidence vote which saw 41% of his own MPs withdraw their support in June.

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The loss of crunch by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton later that month triggered the resignation of party chairman Oliver Dowden, while there is still lingering resentment over coronavirus lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister's fate may ultimately lie with backbench MPs if the Tory 1922 Committee's rules are changed to allow another confidence vote within 12 months.

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The committee's executive did not make any immediate changes to the rules but has scheduled elections for its executive committee to take place on Monday, before a result later that evening.

In a sign that discontent stretches across the party, Lee Anderson, one of the MPs elected in 2019 in Red Wall seats who largely owe their political careers to the Prime Minister, said he too had lost faith in the leader.

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The Ashfield MP pointed to the row over Mr Pincher's appointment and said: "Integrity should always come first and sadly this has not been the case over the past few days."