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‘Enough is enough’: Sajid Javid calls on Boris Johnson’s remaining ministers to oust PM

The Independent logo The Independent 06/07/2022 Adam Forrest
Sajid-Javid.jpg © Parliament TV Sajid-Javid.jpg

Sajid Javid has called on his former cabinet colleagues to oust Boris Johnson, telling the Commons he had quit because he had concluded that the PM was “the problem” and would not change.

Having resigned as health secretary, Mr Javid told MPs that the prime minister’s “reset button” would no longer work, adding: “Something is fundamentally wrong.”

Mr Javid insisted he was not “one of life’s quitters” and said: “I have concluded that the problem starts at the top and that is not going to change.”

He was giving a personal statement – similar to the one delivered by Geoffrey Howe following his resignation from the Thatcher government in November 1990 – and was heard in near-total silence after the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions.

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Calling on his former colleagues to act, Mr Javid said: “They will have their own reason [for staying]. But they have a choice ... Let’s be clear, not doing something is an active decision.”

Mr Javid said he had continued to give Mr Johnson the benefit of the doubt during the Partygate scandal – having been assured no rules were broken “from the most senior level of the prime minister’s team”.

After saying that “enough is enough”, he added: “I do fear that the reset button can only work so many times. There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on and off before you realise that something is fundamentally wrong.”

The prime minister faces the biggest leadership crisis of his premiership after his handling of the row over scandal-hit ex-deputy chief whip Chris Pincher sparked outrage.

Six ministers resigned on Wednesday – Treasury minister John Glen, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins, health minister Jo Churchill, housing minister Stuart Andrew, schools standards minister Robin Walker and children and families minister Will Quince all quit.

They are the latest in almost 20 resignations of ministers, aides and envoys who have followed the exit of Mr Javid and Rishi Sunak from cabinet.

Unlike Mr Javid, Mr Sunak did not make a statement in the Commons explaining his exit, but said in his resignation letter that Britain deserved a government that is run “properly, competently and seriously”.

At PMQs, Mr Johnson did not deny using the phrase “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” about the ex-minister now threatening to end his time at No 10.

Labour leader Keir Starmer ripped into Mr Johnson and the multiple Tory resignations – ridiculing it as “the first case of the sinking ship fleeing the rat”.

Senior Tory MP Gary Sambrook received a round of applause from the Labour benches after calling on Mr Johnson to resign at PMQs.

The executive secretary of the party’s 1922 committee, accused Mr Johnson of attempting “to blame other people for mistakes”, and told him directly: “Take responsibility and resign.”

This is Sajid Javid’s speech in full:

“Mr Speaker, I’m grateful for your permission to make this statement. Yesterday we began our day together. You, I, my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister and colleagues from across this House, broke bread together at the Parliamentary prayer breakfast.

“And we listened all of us to the words of Reverend Les Isaac who spoke about the fact that responsibility that comes with leadership, the responsibility to serve the interests of others above your own and to seek common ground of your party, your community, and above all, your country.

“Now, colleagues will be forgiven for my sense of deja vu. Despite what it might seem, I am not one of life’s quitters.

“I didn’t quit when I was told that boys like me, don’t do maths. I didn’t quit when old school bankers said I didn’t have the right school ties. And I didn’t quit when people in my community said that I should not marry the love of my life.


Video: 'Enough is enough': Ex-minister Javid delivers parting blow to PM Johnson (Reuters)

“I care deeply about public service, and giving back to this country that has given me so much. That is why when I got the call from my Right Honourable Friend, the Prime Minister, just over a year ago, I didn’t hesitate to serve again.

“It was a critical time for our country. Tough decisions needed to be made about when we were going to come out of lockdown, about supporting the National Health Service and the care sector under unprecedented strain.

“It has been an absolute privilege of my life to have been trusted with these responsibilities, and I could only hope that my best has been good enough.

“It has undoubtedly also been one of the toughest roles that I’ve had so far. The gravity of Home Office decisions, the scale of Treasury decisions, but nothing matters more than the health of your people, of the British people, especially during, and in the wake of, a pandemic.

“Caring for people’s health and wellbeing is truly a noble vocation, and so I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those across the country working in health and care sectors, as well as those that I worked so closely within my old department DHSC, and in the NHS.

“There’s so much that I planned for the long term, for the long-term reform of our health and care systems. And it is a wrench to leave that important work behind.

“Now, when I last gave a personal statement from this seat, I spoke about the importance of institutions and conventions. Today, it is about the importance of integrity.

“And don’t worry, there’s not going to be a series out of this. Institutions and integrity are both central pillars that underpin our great democracy. It doesn’t matter what your political perspective is in this House, I believe that we are all motivated by the national interest, and that the public expects us all, all of us, to maintain honesty and to maintain integrity in whatever we do.

“This is not an abstract matter. We’ve seen in great democracies, what happens when divisions are entrenched, and not bridged. We cannot allow that to happen here. We must bring the country together as One Nation.

“Effective governance inevitably requires loyalty and collective responsibility, of course it does. And I’m instinctively a team player. And I have completely focused on governing effectively over the last year.

“But treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months. And Mr Speaker, I will never risk losing my integrity.

“I also believe a team is as good as its team captain, and the captain is as good as his or her team. So loyalty must go both ways. The events of recent months have made it increasingly difficult to be in that team.

“It’s not fair on ministerial colleagues to go out every morning defending lines that don’t stand up and don’t hold up. It’s not fair on my parliamentary colleagues who bear the brunt of constituents’ dismay in their inboxes and on the doorsteps in recent elections, and it’s not fair on Conservative members and voters who rightly expect better standards from the party they supported.

“When the first stories of parties in Downing Street emerged late last year, I was personally assured at the most senior level by my Right Honourable Friend’s then team that, and I quote, ‘there had been no parties in Downing Street and no rules were broken’.

“So I gave the benefit of doubt. And I went on those media rounds to say that I’d had those assurances from the most senior level of the Prime Minister’s team. Then we had more stories. We had the Sue Gray report, a new Downing Street team, I continued to give the benefit of the doubt.

“And now this week again, we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we’ve all been told. And at some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough. I believe that point is now.

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s public acknowledgement last night that matters could have been handled better in who he had appointed, and what was said about what he knew when. And I appreciated his kind and humble words, and his humble spirit when I went to see him yesterday, and also the kind letter that he has sent to me.

“But I do fear that the reset button can only work so many times. There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on or off before you realise that something is fundamentally wrong.

“Last month, I gave the benefit of doubt one last time. But I have concluded that the problem starts at the top, that is not going to change. And that means that it is for those of us in a position who have responsibility to make that change.

“I wish my Cabinet colleagues well, and I can see they have decided to remain in the Cabinet. They will have their own reasons. But it is a choice. I know just how difficult that choice is.

“But let’s be clear – not doing something is an active decision. I am deeply concerned about how the next generation will see the Conservative Party on our current course. Our reputation after 12 years in government depends on regaining the public’s trust.

“This is not just a personal matter. The philosophy and perception of Conservatives depends on it. It is central to the Conservative ideal that we believe in decency, in personal responsibility, and in social justice enabled by conventions and the rule of law.

“The Conservatives’ mission to extend freedom and prosperity and opportunity is all at risk if we cannot uphold that ideal.

“And Mr Speaker, the Conservative Party is not the only great institution in need of urgent repair. Like everyone in this House, I have been dismayed by the drip-drip of stories of harassment and worse by Members of this House.

“So I’m also concerned about how the next generation will see this House and the health of our democracy. In recent years, trust in our roles has been undermined through a series of scandals. But the one thing we can control is our own values and behaviours.

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

“Mr Speaker, I’m grateful for the messages of support that I’ve had from many Members of this House and beyond. I got into politics to do something, not to be somebody. So it is hard in one way, but not in another.

“Being a good father, a husband, a son and a citizen is good enough for me.

“And if I can continue to contribute to public life and my party from the backbenches, it will be a privilege to do so.”

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