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3 Feb, 2022 22:12

Three more staff quit PM’s office

With the prime minister under increasing pressure, the staff exodus from Downing Street continues
Three more staff quit PM’s office

Amid mutiny in the Tory Party ranks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost three vital staffers: his communications director, private secretary, and chief of staff all resigning on Thursday evening. News of the trio's exit came shortly after Johnson's policy chief unexpectedly stepped down.

Director of Communications Jack Doyle, Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield, and senior civil servant Martin Reynolds, who had been the PM’s principal private secretary, all handed in their resignations on Thursday. Doyle had apparently planned on leaving but reportedly told colleagues that recent weeks at Number 10 had “taken a terrible toll on my family life.” Meanwhile, Reynolds’ name has been connected to the Partygate scandal, after it emerged that he invited more than 100 Downing Street staff to a ‘BYOB’ drinks party in May 2020, while the UK was under lockdown.

Johnson has been hammered in the press, by opposition, and by his own party in recent weeks over a series of alleged lockdown-breaching events that took place at government offices, including Downing Street, in 2020. Reports of the events sparked an inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray and a Met Police inquiry, the latter of which is ongoing. 

The latest departures from No. 10 come after 17 Tory MPs submitted letters of no confidence in Johnson’s leadership, according to the BBC. However, some UK pundits have speculated that the PM is pressing his staffers to resign, in a bid to clear “out anyone and everyone associated with the Partygate chaos.”

Yet Johnson is also in hot water over a comment made in Parliament to Labour Leader Keir Starmer on Monday while the opposition questioned the PM over Gray’s findings. Johnson blamed Starmer for the Crown Prosecution Service’s failure to prosecute notorious pedophile Jimmy Savile back in 2009, something Starmer, who led the CPS at the time, apparently had nothing to do with.

Johnson’s jibe outraged Starmer, who accused the PM of smearing him with the “conspiracy theories of violent fascists,” and earlier on Thursday one of Johnson’s longest-serving colleagues, policy chief Munira Mirza, handed in her resignation over his Savile comment. In her letter to Johnson, Mirza called on Johnson to “apologise for a grave error of judgement made under huge pressure.”