Boris Johnson continued his terrible political week with a long, rambling speech in which the UK Prime Minister said he’d rather be “dead in the ditch” than ask Europe to delay Brexit.
Johnsons jokes fell flat, and he seemed deflated and unprepared, jumping from topic to topic. Johnson spoke while standing in front of a group of police recruits, an attempt to highlight his government’s promise to invest in policing. At one point, he launched into what seemed to be a spontaneous riff on police rules to the recruits, but became confused and abandoned the topic.
It didn’t help that one of the recruits standing just behind the Prime Minister became visibly ill during his remarks and had to sit down.
Johnson’s speech was likely planned as his first election campaign address. Except there is now no campaign. And no election. Johnson’s call for one was defeated by Parliament on Wednesday, one of three bruising losses he suffered this week.
The awkward speech ended a day filled with more Conservative resignations. He lost the Northern Ireland minister Nick Hurd and a long-time Conservative Caroline Spelman. Both mentioned Brexit as the reason for their departures.
It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs. In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister. #overandout
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonUK) 5 September 2019
Johnson seemed preoccupied. his thoughts probably drifting to how he will get through the next family meal after his brother walked out of Government Jo Johnson, the younger brother of Boris Johnson, who declared he is resigning as an MP and minister, saying he is “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.
The business minister and Tory MP for Orpington, south-east London, cited an “unresolvable tension” in his role.
Speaking at an event in West Yorkshire, Boris Johnson called his brother a “fantastic guy” and a “brilliant minister”.
But he added that he had a “different approach to me about the European Union”.
Jo Johnson resigned as a minister last year in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU. But he re-entered government during the summer, after Conservative Party members elected his brother as leader.
Jo Johnson’s resignation also comes as the government announced it would give MPs another chance to vote for an early election on Monday.
The fresh vote on an early election is scheduled just before Parliament is due to be prorogued – or suspended – from next week until 14 October.
The incredible shrinking Tory Party
Former chancellors, Winston Churchill’s grandson and the current longest-serving MP have all been sacked from the Conservative Party for rebelling against the government in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
The 21 Conservative MPs – many of them decades-long Tory loyalists – helped inflict defeat on Boris Johnson in his first major vote since becoming prime minister, winning a vote to override a Commons rule that says only the government can propose new laws.
Here is the full list of Tory rebels:
- Guto Bebb
- Richard Benyon
- Steve Brine
- Alistair Burt
- Greg Clark
- Ken Clarke
- David Gauke
- Justine Greening
- Dominic Grieve
- Sam Gyimah
- Philip Hammond
- Stephen Hammond.
- Richard Harrington
- Margot James
- Oliver Letwin
- Anne Milton
- Caroline Noakes
- Antoinette Sandbach
- Nicholas Soames
- Rory Stewart
- Ed Vaizey
The group, along with opposition parties, will use voted on the motion to get Johnson to ask Brussels to delay the Brexit deadline from 31 October to 31 January 2020 – a date the EU would ultimately be in charge of.
Mr Johnson’s government confirmed all 21 MPs had the Tory whip removed, meaning they have been sacked from the Conservatives and will not be allowed to stand for the party at the next general election.
Northern Ireland Minister Nick Hurd also announced that he would not stand as an MP in the next election.
A week in politics is a long time. It’s only Thursday!
He said politics had become “dominated by the ongoing division over Brexit”. He also said his life had been “changed profoundly by the birth of my two youngest children”.