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Last night the UK was hit with news that Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have both handed in their resignation. The key message in both resignation letters was that their proposed plans in light of the current crisis were too different to what Boris Johnson was willing to offer.
The PM had planned for a joint speech with Sunak next week to show that the government were taking control of the cost of living crisis. The two leaders could however not agree its contents. In particular, the chancellor said the public is “ready to hear the truth” about the severity of what lies ahead.
Yesterday the former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that the government needed to level with the public about the fact that the inflation energy crisis has made the nation poorer.
The cost-of-living crisis means a series of incredibly difficult trade-offs for government to make in the coming months.
Although the decision to resign was met with respect from many peers they show a deeper problem in the cabinet.
“We certainly live in interesting times! When two heavyweights like Sunak and Javid resign at the same time you know something really is up. Many say that this is the end for Boris but I suspect that he will force the party to give him one last chance. If he gets it his only hope is to try to win back the Tory heartlands with genuine Tory policies such as serious tax cuts, more action on implementing Brexit and a tougher stance on immigration. Many in the country will dislike those policies but the Tory voters, and those on the right of the party, will only be impressed by moves that are more reminiscent of what the party used to stand for.”
This severity however won’t be met with ease by a people financially on its knees. Boris Johnson has already let down a huge amount of Tory voters and otherwise and “partygate” has lost him a huge amount of. public respect. Many feeling angry and betrayed that they missed family members dying and significant events. Therefore these exits of two of his high cup cabinet prove a crucial moment in his roll as leader.
Birtles adds: “Only the next 48 hours will show whether the PM has used up nine of his lives or if he can hang on as leader of the pack.”
We are on the edge of our seats.
It was a privilege to have been asked to come back into Government to serve as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at such a critical time for our country. I have given every ounce of energy to this task, and am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.
The UK has led the world in learning to live with Covid. Thanks to the amazing rollout of our booster programme, investment in treatments, and innovations in the way we deliver healthcare, the British people have enjoyed months more freedom than other comparable countries.
We have also made important strides in the recovery and reform of the NHS and adult social care. The longest waiters are down by 70% and, as you know, I have been working hard on wider modernisation of the NHS. I have also developed radical new approaches to dementia, cancer and mental health, and prepared the Health Disparities White Paper which will set out plans to level up health outcomes for communities that have been left behind for too long.
Given the unprecedented scale of the challenges in health and social care, it has been my instinct to continue focusing on this important work. So it is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this Government, I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government.
The tone you set as 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 always have 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 neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and new direction. I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.
It is three years since you entered Downing Street. You will forever be credited with seeing off the threat of Corbynism, and breaking the deadlock on Brexit. You have shone a very welcome light on the regional disparities on our country, an agenda that will continue to define our politics. These are commendable legacies in unprecedented times. But the country needs a strong and principled Conservative Party, and the Party is bigger than any one individual. I served you loyally and as a friend, but we all serve the country first. When made to choose between those loyalties there can only be one answer.
Finally, I would like to put on record my thanks to ministerial and departmental colleagues, my admiration for NHS and social care staff, and my love for my family who have been immensely patient in these challenging times.
Dear Prime Minister,
It is with deep sadness that I am writing to you to resign from the Government.
It has been an enormous privilege to serve our country as Chancellor of the Exchequer and I will always be proud of how during the pandemic we protected people’s jobs and businesses through actions such as furlough.
To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time. For me to step down as Chancellor while the world is suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision that I have not taken lightly.
However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.
I have been loyal to you. I backed you to become Leader of our Party and encouraged others to do so. I have served as your Chancellor with gratitude that you entrusted me with stewardship of the nation’s economy and finances. Above all, I have respected the powerful mandate given to you by the British people in 2019 and how under your leadership we broke the Brexit deadlock.
That is why I have always tried to compromise in order to deliver the things you want to achieve. On those occasions where I disagreed with you privately, I have supported you publicly. That is the nature of the collective government upon which our system relies and it is particularly important that the Prime Minister and Chancellor remain united in hard times such as those we are experiencing today.
Our country is facing immense challenges. We both want a low-tax, high-growth economy, and world class public services, but this can only be responsibly delivered if we are prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and take difficult decisions.
I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. 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. In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.
I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this.
Thank you for your letter this evening tendering your resignation. I was very sorry to receive it.
You have served this Government, and the people of the United Kingdom, with distinction. Most recently, you have led the Department of Health and Social Care as we learn to live with Covid, forging ahead with plans to beat the Covid backlogs, recruit 50,000 nurses, build 40 new hospitals, and reform social care. These are the issues that matter to the people of this country, and the Government will continue to deliver on them.
You have held significant positions in Government for the past decade, and have served myself and former Prime Ministers admirably. You have used your personal experience to bring about change in government, from fixing the injustices of Windrush to setting out recently a plan to address suicide.
You will be greatly missed, and I look forward to your contributions from the backbenches.
I was sorry to receive your letter resigning from the Government.
You have provided outstanding service to the country through the most challenging period for our economy in peacetime history.
In March 2020, weeks after your appointment as Chancellor, we introduced a national lockdown to protect people from the pandemic. You acted to safeguard the economy with the pace, creativity and commitment which has been the hallmark of your tenure.
The furlough scheme – conceived and implemented in a matter of weeks – supported 11.7 million jobs from 1.3 million employers. Through business loans and grants, you helped thousands of businesses to avoid insolvency. Emergency funding worth more than £140 billion, enabled the NHS and other critical public services to meet the enormous challenges we faced.
These efforts primed the economy for a rapid recovery once the immediate dangers of the pandemic receded. At the Spending Review last year, you put us on track to deliver our promises to the British people, including 20,000 police officers and 40 new hospitals. We also set a clear plan to rebuild our economy and public services, including an historic funding settlement for the NHS and delivering six million tutoring courses to help pupils catch up lost learning.
Through all of this, you have not shied from the tough decisions needed to repair our public finances whilst protecting public services and boosting economic growth. This has enabled us to provide support to households worth £37 billion, as we have faced global inflation pressures arising from Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
And we have begun to deliver tax cuts to families – including this week, a cut to National Insurance saving the average worker £330 a year.
I have enormously valued your advice and deep commitment to public service and will miss working with you in government.