- Downing Street confirmed Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield would be leaving.
- Johnson’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, also decided to quit.
- Communications Director Jack Doyle and Policy Director Munira Mirza also announced their resignations.
London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced four staff shortages on Thursday as pressure mounted on the embattled leader over lockdown parties and his loose-legged style of politics.
One of the departures was related to an inflammatory remark by Johnson attacking opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer over a notorious pedophile.
“Frankly, I wouldn’t have said it and I’m glad the Prime Minister clarified it,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said in an extraordinary rebuke from his boss during a televised press conference.
Sunak is tipped as one of the top contenders to replace Johnson, as a brewing conservative rebellion against the prime minister develops.
Downing Street confirmed Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield would be leaving, just over a year after taking on the role on an assignment to professionalize Johnson’s chaotic operation.
His resignation comes after a top official in a much-anticipated investigation this week condemned “failures of leadership” in Downing Street over a series of parties held in violation of Covid restrictions.
Also, Johnson’s “private secretary”, Martin Reynolds, who sent a now infamous email in May 2020 urging Downing Street staff to “bring your own booze” to a private meeting.
Johnson “thanked both of them for their significant contributions to the government and No. 10, including the work on the pandemic response and economic recovery,” a spokesman said.
Their departure was confirmed not long after that of two other top advisers: communications director Jack Doyle and policy chief Munira Mirza.
According to the Daily Mail, Doyle told his colleagues when he left: “It was always my intention to do two years. The past few weeks have taken a terrible toll on my family life.”
Doyle was involved in the “partygate” affair after attending at least one Downing Street event under investigation by police.
Mirza, a longtime ally of Johnson, resigned after the Prime Minister tried to link Labor’s Starmer to the failure of British authorities to prosecute veteran TV presenter Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011 at the age of 84.
During his lifetime, Savile was seen as a widely loved presenter. But after his death, allegations arose that he had been a serial abuser of hundreds of children, without prosecution.
In parliament on Monday, Johnson shocked many of his own when he aired a conspiracy theory common among far-right groups that Starmer personally failed to prosecute Savile when he was director of the state prosecutions in England and Wales from 2008 to 2013. .
Under Starmer’s supervision, the police decided not to press charges against Savile, despite widespread suspicions about his behavior.
Starmer was not personally involved in the decision, and he accused Johnson of “inventing the conspiracy theories of violent fascists to score cheap political points”.
Johnson tried to come back late on Wednesday, after strong criticism from some Tory MPs, parts of the media and a lawyer representing Savile’s victims.
But Mirza said that didn’t go far enough, according to her letter of resignation reported by Spectator magazine.
Johnson’s comment in parliament “was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrific case of child sexual abuse,” she said, noting the prime minister had yet to apologize.
“You are a better man than many of your opponents will ever understand, which is why it is so terribly sad that you disappoint yourself by making a savage accusation against the leader of the opposition.”
Mirza, who was once a member of the now-defunct Revolutionary Communist Party, worked with Johnson from 2008 to 2016 when he was mayor of London, joining him on Downing Street as of 2019.
Speaking to Channel 5 News on Thursday, before breaking news of the other resignations, Johnson said he was sorry to lose Mirza, praising her for “an excellent job”.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief assistant, became a bitter enemy, saying Mirza’s resignation was an “undeniable signal that the bunker is collapsing” as “party gate” allegations swirl.