Suella Braverman tells PM to go as Simon Hart becomes third to quit cabinet

Attorney general says ‘balance has tipped’ against Boris Johnson

'Have you asked him to resign Larry?': Downing Street cat asked by reporters

The government’s most senior law officer has called on Boris Johnson to resign after the prime minister suffered a third cabinet resignation due to his refusal to leave office.

Suella Braverman, the attorney general, said Mr Johnson had handled matters “appalingly” in recent days and “the balance has tipped now in favour of saying that the prime minister – it pains me to say it – but it’s time to go.” Ms Braverman, previously a loyalist, said she would stand in a contest to replace Mr Johnson as Tory leader.

Meanwhile, Simon Hart became the latest minister to resign from Mr Johnson’s cabinet, leaving his role as Welsh secretary after the prime minster insisted on remaining in his role against the advice of colleagues.

The Welsh secretary was followed swiftly out of government by Ed Argar, a health minister – bringing the number of MPs who had resigned since Tuesday to 44.

Mr Hart wrote in his resignation letter he was reluctant to take the measure but felt it necessary due to the prime minister obstinance in the face of rapidly dwindling support in the Tory party.

The Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP wrote: “I have never been a massive fan of Ministerial resignations being the best means of forcing change.

“Colleagues have done their upmost in private and public to help you turn the ship around, but it is with sadness that I feel we have passed the point where this is possible”.

Hart was third cabinet minister to go

Three cabinet ministers have now resigned, with Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak leaving minutes apart on Tuesday evening in a move that unleashed the disaffection of scores of Tory MPs.

Mr Hart remained until Wednesday evening after being among a group of cabinet members to gather in Downing Street to tell the prime minister his time was up. He was joined by Priti Patel, Kwasi Kwarteng, Grant Shapps and Brandon Lewis.

The Independent understands ministers went one by one to tell the prime minister to accept he had lost the support of his party. Mr Johnson heard them but refused to resign.

The No 10 talks came after the prime minister faced an intense grilling before opposition critics and Tory MPs alike on the Commons Liaison Committee, as the stream of ministerial resignations continued.

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.

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