Sajid Javid has taken a swipe at Boris Johnson after quitting as chancellor, saying “any self-respecting minister” would reject the conditions the prime minister was offering, as several senior heads rolled in a cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Javid, who had long had tensions with Mr Johnson’s closest adviser, Dominic Cummings, also suggested Mr Johnson was stripping the Treasury of its credibility.
In a bombshell less than a month before the budget, he chose to quit rather than sack his aides, as the prime minister had demanded. He is being replaced by Rishi Sunak, who has been an MP for only five years.
His resignation letter said it was “important as leaders to have trusted teams that reflect the character and integrity that you would wish to be associated with”.
Also in the reshuffle, Mr Johnson sacked Julian Smith as Northern Ireland secretary, Andrea Leadsom as business secretary, Esther McVey as housing minister, Theresa Villiers as environment secretary and Geoffrey Cox as attorney general.
Please see below for what was our live coverage.
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of events at Westminster and beyond.
PM planning to ‘blood’ new generation of female Tory talent
Speculation suggests several women in cabinet – Andrea Leadsom (business), Theresa Villiers (environment) and Esther McVey (housing) will lose their roles in this morning’s reshuffle.
Keen to avoid a sexism row, No 10 has briefed that Boris Johnson is using the ministerial shake-up to promote female talent, with no cut in the number of women in full cabinet roles and promotion for a number of up-and-coming female stars, including Victoria Atkins, Lucy Frazer and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (with the latter expected to become international development secretary).
The prime minister is understood to want to “blood” a new generation of MPs from the 2017 and 2019 intakes.
If any of the newbies think they’re about to get a lot of face time with the boss, think again. Some ministers have complained Johnson is so tightly controlled by Dominic Cummings they’re unable to see him.
One told The Telegraph: “He is like Aung San Suu Kyi, he has been taken over by the military junta.”
Boris Johnson at Downing Street (AFP)
Thornberry says Rebecca Long-Bailey didn’t do enough on antisemitism
Emily Thornberry claimed her shadow cabinet colleague Rebecca Long-Bailey failed to push for tougher action on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
During a tense moment in a Labour leadership debate on BBC Newsnight, the shadow foreign secretary said she and Sir Keir Starmer had called for the shadow cabinet to be more involved in tackling the party's antisemitism problem.
But Thornberry claimed she did not “remember” shadow business secretary Long-Bailey doing the same.
“I don’t think Rebecca did, but Keir [Starmer] and I did.” Long-Bailey responded: “I did, I think you’ll find.” But Thornberry added: “Sorry, I don’t remember.”
All the debate details here:
Starmer urges Boris Johnson not to abolish aid department
Labour leadership frontrunner Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to preserve the Department for International Development as an independent ministry with its own cabinet-level secretary of state in the reshuffle on Thursday which is expected to set the tone for his next four years in office.
Starmer said Labour must guard against Tory efforts to “hollow out” the international development department and absorb its budgets and poverty-reduction ethos within the Foreign Office, whose priority is promoting UK interests overseas.
Writing in The Independent, he said: “Merging the two departments would not only send entirely the wrong message about the UK’s commitment to helping those who need it most, it would also affect the quality and reach of our development programmes.”
Is Ben Wallace on his way out?
The Tories love northerners now. But is it northernness enough to save defence secretary Ben Wallace? One of the cabinet’s big hitters is thought to be facing the chop today, but he made a slightly desperate plea for his job on Wednesday.
“I’m a veteran, I’m a northern MP, I was actually in the army. So I think all those hopefully qualify me, but who knows?”
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox – also said to be under threat – said he would "eagerly" embrace the opportunity to continue in his post if spared by the PM.
“If you gave me the opportunity to continue I would embrace it eagerly but equally if it is not to be, well then there are other doorways that will open for me.”
Senior ministers including chancellor Sajid Javid, home secretary Priti Patel and foreign secretary Dominic Raab are expected to remain in place while Downing Street has confirmed that Grant Shapps will stay on as transport secretary.
Other factors at play in this reshuffle include filling the vacant role in charge of the Cop26 UN climate summit following the sacking of Claire O’Neill and deciding whether Steve Barclay will return to government after the Brexit department was scrapped following our exit from the EU.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace (AFP)
Tory donor denies paying for PM’s £15,000 Caribbean holiday
Boris Johnson is facing questions over who paid for his £15,000 holiday to the island of Mustique with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds after a Tory donor denied funding the winter trip.
The prime minister claimed the luxury break was paid for by David Ross a Conservative donor who co-founded the Carphone Warehouse chain, in the Commons register of members’ interests.
But the businessman denied funding the trip, prompting calls from Labour for Johnson to “fess up” or face a parliamentary inquiry.
A spokesman for the businessman said: “Boris Johnson did not stay in David Ross’s house. Boris wanted some help to find somewhere in Mustique, David called the company who run all the villas and somebody had dropped out. So Boris got the use of a villa that was worth £15,000, but David Ross did not pay any monies whatsoever for this.”
Asked about Johnson’s declaration, the spokesman said: “I believe it is a mistake.”
Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister, said: “Boris Johnson must come clean about who has paid for his luxury trip. If he fails to do so, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should step in and make him fess up.
“The public deserves to know who is paying for their prime minister’s jaunts.”
PM gets firings out of the way as reshuffle begins
We’re expecting Boris Johnson to soon begin making phone calls to those getting sacked – saving them the misfortune of having to stroll past broadcasters’ cameras outside No 10.
From around 10am those remaining in post, being promoted, or being given a cabinet job will be invited to Downing Street for a brief chat with the prime minister.
Exclusive: British man blocked from entering UK
A British citizen has been blocked from entering the UK after a holiday because the Home Office revoked his passport with no warning – rendering him stateless and homeless.
Fatush Lala, 33, who has lived in Britain since the age of 14, was told by border officials as he tried to board a flight home from Brussels airport that he had no right to do so.
Lala, who lives in north London, has now been forced to sleep on the streets of the Belgian capital for more than three weeks.
Labour MP David Lammy, who has tweeted our exclusive story this morning, said it was “grossly inhumane” treatment.
All the details here:
First sacking? Julian Smith said to be on his way out
The Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith has reportedly been summoned for an early meeting with the prime minister and expects to be told he’s no longer wanted in the role.
Another £18m needed for Ben Ben tower repair
An extra £18.6m is needed to renovate the tower which houses Ben Ben, parliamentary authorities have been told.
The increase in restoration costs has been put down to the discovery of asbestos, pollution and the discovery of extensive Second World War bomb damage in the Elizabeth Tower, home to the capital’s famous bell.
But a spokesman for the House of Commons Commission said members were “extremely disappointed” by the request for “yet more funding”.
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