Politics

Senior Downing Street aide Munira Mirza quits over Johnson’s Savile comments

A SENIOR aide in Downing Street has quit her job over the Prime Minister’s comments about Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile.

Munira Mirza, No.10’s policy director, resigned this afternoon.

Mr Johnson previously named Ms Mirza as one of his most inspiring women, alongside his own grandmother.

In a letter to the Prime Minister sent today, she wrote that it was “wrong” for him to imply Sir Keir had “failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.

The letter, obtained by the Spectator, read: “I believe it was wrong for you to imply this week that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing Jimmy Savile to escape justice.

“There was no fair or reasonable basis for that assertion.

“This was not the usual cut and thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse.”

Mr Johnson said he wanted to clarify the remarks earlier today, adding that he was not talking about the Labour leader’s personal responsibility. 

However Ms Mirza said this did not go far enough, adding: ” You tried to clarify your position today but, despite my urging, you did not apologise for the misleading impression you gave.” 

The Prime Minister originally made the comments on Monday in the Commons, under parliamentary privilege.

His spokesman, and other cabinet ministers, refused to repeat them outside the chamber where they were not privileged, and therefore could be subject to legal action.

On a visit to Blackpool today, Mr Johnson told reporters he wanted to clarify the remarks, adding: “I want to be very clear about this because a lot of people have got very hot under the collar, and I understand why.

“Let’s be absolutely clear, I’m talking not about the Leader of the Opposition’s personal record when he was DPP and I totally understand that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions. I was making a point about his responsibility for the organisation as a whole.” 

The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of “parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists to try to score cheap political points.

 

Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s former senior advisor, tweeted that Ms Mirza had shown “moral courage”, and her departure was a sign Mr Johnson’s time as Prime Minister was coming to an end. 

He wrote: “It’s also an unmistakeable signal the bunker is collapsing & *this PM is finished*. “Flicker of moral courage from Cabinet & Cabinet Office asap please.” 

Former Downing Street Union Unit chief Oliver Lewis said Ms Mirza was “a woman of total integrity and extreme ability” and her depature would be a “loss to the state”.

A No.10 spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry Munira has left No 10 and are grateful for her service and contribution to government.

“Andrew Griffith MP has been appointed Head of the No 10 Policy Unit and will work across government and with MPs as we continue to deliver and expand on our ambitious policy agenda.” 

SNP Deputy westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said the resignation showed it was time for Mr Johnson to quit.

She said: ” Boris Johnson’s position is completely untenable. He has broken his own covid rules, misled parliament, and now one of his most trusted advisers is jumping ship out of disgust for his lies.

“If Mr Johnson won’t go willingly, then Tory MPs must force him from office. The longer he stays in post, the more damage he will do to any remaining public trust in the Westminster government.”

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