Politics

Johnson loyalists ‘putting a positive spin’ on aides’ departure chaos, claims MSP

THOSE claiming the mass exodus of aides from Downing Street is all part of Boris Johnson’s plan could be “putting a positive spin” on the chaos, an MSP has said.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservative MSP for South Scotland, said the departure of five senior officials from No.10 in the past 24 hours “doesn’t look good”.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Mr Hoy said that while the resignation of Munira Mirza, Jack Doyle, Dan Rosenfeld, Martin Reynolds and Elena Narozanski shows “that things are going to change in Downing Street”, he added: “I recognise that this doesn’t look good.

“It does show that things are going to change in Downing Street, that people are leaving.

“But I think that is putting perhaps a positive spin on the situation.”

Asked about whether he would support Chancellor Rishi Sunak to replace Mr Johnson, the MSP said it was “far too early” to discuss successors and there was “no vacancy for the top job”.

He added: “I think if there is a vacancy, I suspect myself and colleagues will be quite clear with you at that point in time.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s Savile comment, Mr Hoy added: “It’s down for the Prime Minister to choose his words. He chose his words.

“The Chancellor said he wouldn’t have chosen them. And I don’t think I would have done so either.”

Last month, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called on the Prime Minister to quit over the partygate affair and that was echoed by many Conservative MSPs.

Reports circulating this morning suggest that there could be further resignations from Downing Street in the coming days, while MPs are still considering whether to formally signal their lack fo confidence in the Prime Minister.

The resignation of Ms Mirza came as a shock, sources said, with the former No.10 policy chief working with Boris Johnson for 14 years including when he was Mayor of London.

In her strongly-worded letter, she said she was disappointed with the Prime Minister’s decision not to apologise about comments made regarding Jimmy Savile, despite her advice to do so.

Tory MP Huw Merriment said this morning that he agreed withn Ms Mirza and expected an apology from Mr Johnson.

He said: “ : “I’m very sorry for the reasons that she has stepped down because I agree with her (Ms Mirza).

“It’s not right, when we expect a full apology (from Mr Johnson), and it should be all about the issues and correcting it, to then go on the attack and making points that just clearly aren’t accurate, that doesn’t help us restore trust with the public.”

He also issued a muddled warning to the PM, saying: “I’m deeply troubled by what’s going on.

“We all know that if the Prime Minister doesn’t ship up, then they have to shape out [sic], and that’s exactly what happened when this Prime Minister took over.

“We know how it works. I’m sure the Prime Minister will be focused now on getting on with the job in hand, focusing on policy and regaining the public’s trust.”

However Energy Minister Greg Hands sought to defend the PM on the morning broadcast round, saying the departure of senior aides was all part of Mr Johnson’s attempt to reshape his team.

He explained on Sky News: “Resignations have been made, resignations have been accepted.

“The Prime Minister was absolutely clear on Monday that there would be changes at the top of No 10 and that is what he has delivered.”

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