London: Boris Johnson is in a “buoyant mood” and “will fight on” to stay as the British Prime Minister, one of his top aides has said, despite some of the embattled premier’s most loyal cabinet ministers, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, joining the mutiny and demanding his resignation. Amid ongoing speculation over his leadership, Johnson’s parliamentary private secretary James Duddridge said on Wednesday that he expects the prime minister to make senior cabinet appointments soon. He said Johnson was in a “buoyant mood” and “will fight on”, moments before it emerged that he had sacked a senior Cabinet minister known to be critical of him staying in Downing Street.
Michael Gove, UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, had reportedly told Johnson earlier in the day that it was time for him to quit. Johnson is believed to have called him up from Downing Street to inform him that he is fired from his ministerial post. Duddridge told ‘Sky News’ that there will be a joint plan for the economy laid out by Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi, the new UK Chancellor, on Thursday.
“He has a 14 million mandate and so much to do for the country,” said Duddridge. “I expect him to make senior Cabinet appointments this evening and am looking forward to hearing what the PM and his fantastic chancellor Nadhim Zahawi have to say tomorrow,” he said.
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Other media reports also confirmed that Johnson, 58, has no plans of resigning, with a No. 10 Downing Street source saying the UK premier remains “absolutely defiant”. Graham Brady, the chair of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, has reportedly told its leader that the committee’s executive election on Monday “could result in another confidence vote”, which Johnson is likely to lose.
“The Prime Minister is conscious he has a mandate from 14 million people (from 2019 general election) and the only way he will leave is if the party takes that mandate off him,” a source close to Johnson was quoted as saying.
The 1922 Committee is responsible for setting the timetable for a Tory leadership contest. To take part in the race, a Tory MP has to be nominated by eight colleagues. If more than two MPs put themselves forward and secure enough nominations to run for leader, a series of secret ballots are held to whittle them down.
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It was thought that with a large chunk of his Cabinet now calling for his resignation, Johnson would give in and step down. However, it would now seem he is determined to fight on until he is voted out in a no-confidence showdown of Tory party members.
Home Secretary Patel on Wednesday became the latest senior Cabinet minister to withdraw her support for Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party, after UK media reports said she is part of a contingent of ministers with an ultimatum for the embattled prime minister to step down.
The Indian-origin minister has so far said she has no plans of resigning after Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid made their dramatic exit from the Cabinet, triggering a flurry of ministerial and government aide resignations now adding up to 38.
But ‘The Times’ newspaper was the first to report on Wednesday evening that a hardcore Boris loyalist until now, Patel had switched ranks to join a Cabinet ministerial delegation to 10 Downing Street to let him know that the time is up on his leadership.
The BBC soon confirmed those reports that she along with Zahawi, the newly appointed Chancellor to replace Sunak, were among the group of ministers threatening to resign unless Johnson accepts his time in Downing Street is up.
Patel, 50, is joined by other loyalists such as UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart. The delegation of senior politicians, which also included Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, new Education Secretary Michelle Donelan and Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris is believed to have told Johnson that his position as prime minister was now unsustainable.
It follows a day of high political drama in the heart of Westminster politics in London, with minister after minister stepping down, believed to be the highest number of UK government resignations in a day since the 1930s.