Elena Narozanski, formerly Boris Johnson’s special advisor on women and equalities, DCMS, and extremism, has become the fifth Downing Street aide to walk out within 24 hours.
And while Tory MPs have been desperately trying to spin the resignations as signs that Johnson is following through on his pledge to clean up what is fast becoming politics’ street of shame, the Tories have admitted that she was not pushed out.
The timing of the resignation – it was announced just after 7.30am today (February 4) left egg on the face of Tory Energy minister Greg Hands, who had already appeared on the morning media round to say that the four resignations yesterday were “the end of the matter” and “the time is now to move on”.
Hands appeared on BBC Breakfast minutes later, trying to tell Naga Munchetty that all the resignations were part of Boris Johnson’s previously-announced shake-up of Downing Street and its practices.
Ms Munchetty made mincemeat of the minister:
Energy Minister Greg Hands says the Prime Minister is not "throwing crew overboard to save himself" in response to the recent resignations of four of his top aides.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) February 4, 2022
According to the Mirror,
Ms Narozanski is said to have been an ally to Ms Mirza and was not part of the clearout.
Former No 10 aide Nikki da Costa said she is “one of the most principled women I know”, adding: “Another big loss to the policy unit.”
This view seems to have been confirmed by Johnson himself, as he has given a desperate speech to Number 10 staff, apparently in a bid to stop further resignations.
He is said to have quoted from Disney film The Lion King, saying, “Change is good.”
But he also admitted, “This is a challenging time.”
Minutes after this speech, a Downing Street spokesman had to insist that Johnson has not lost control of Number 10 – which of course indicates that he has.
Former Tory minister Malcolm Rifkind has described him as “Toxic”.
And it seems the only thing keeping many Tory backbenchers from demanding a change of leader is the lack of any strong challenger to replace him.
Johnson has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of – shall we say – lesser talents. MPs think Rishi Sunak would not “wow the crowds” while Liz Truss is “too big for her boots”.
Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs committee, has said he would run for election to replace Johnson – but very few people seem to have noticed.
It seems all the talent in the Tory Party was expelled when Johnson rid his government of more than 20 members who refused to support his Brexit, back in 2019 – and how right they were!
Now, with public confidence in the prime minister plummetting, it seems ironic that one of his earliest decisions as leader could signal the death knell for his party.
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