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06/07/2022

Housing minister resigns

Words: Laura Edgar
Stuart Andrew / UK Parliament is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Stuart Andrew has resigned from his position as housing minister.

Andrew, the MP for Pudsey, West Yorkshire, since 2010, was appointed to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in February.

Andrew replaced Christopher Pincher, the MP for Tamworth, as housing minister.

This follows the resignations of Rishi Sunak as chancellor and Said Javid as health secretary.

Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip last Thursday (30 June) after allegations were made that he groped two men the night before (29 June) while drinking at the Carlton Club in central London.

Johnson suspended the whip on Friday (1 July). Since then, questions arose about why Pincher was appointed as deputy chief whip, given that there had been an investigation into his inappropriate behaviour in 2019. Number 10 denied that Johnson knew anything about specific allegations against the deputy chief whip.

On 6 July, former Foreign Office permanent secretary Lord McDonald said Downing Street was making “inaccurate claims” and was “not telling the truth”.

It was then confirmed that the prime minister had been informed about the 2019 investigation into Pincher's behaviour. Johnson said it “was a mistake” and “in hindsight the wrong thing to do” as he issued an apology.

Andrew announced his resignation following Prime Minister's Questions today (6 July).

 

In his letter to the prime minister, Andrew said he has been “honoured” to serve in a number roles within government.

“It is good that housing is now so high on the political agenda and I wish my successor well and offer apologies to the sector who will have to get to know yet another housing minister, but I should comment all of them and those in local government who are doing so much to address the housing needs of our country.”

Andrew states that he admires what Johnson has achieved on Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Loyalty and unity are traits that I have always endeavoured to provide for our great party. However, I fear I have let these override my judgement recently. There comes a time when you have to look at your own personal integrity and that time is now. Therefore, given recent events I have no other choice than to resign.

“Our party, particularly our members and more importantly our great country, deserve better. Having a marginal seat I have seen the huge sacrifice our members make in volunteering considerable hours to campaign on our behalf and I cannot, in all good conscience, tolerate them having to defend the indefensible.”

Andrew’s resignation is just one in a growing number of resignations prompted by the prime minister’s handling of the sexual misconduct allegations against Pincher.

There have been 11 housing ministers since May 2010.


Updates:

In a statement on Facebook, former housing secretary Robert Jenrick has withdrawn his support for the prime minister, stating that “the country would be best served by new leadership”.

He fears there has been an “irretrievable loss of trust with the public, confirmed by the mishandling of serious allegations in recent days”.

“If we continue along our present path we risk doing lasting damage to the reputation of the Conservative Party for competence and good government and, more importantly, to the standing of politics generally. I can no longer, in all good conscience, support this.”

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Five ministers have submitted a joint letter of resignation to the prime minister:

  • Neil O'Brien – levelling up minister
  • Kemi Badenoch – local government minister
  • Julia Lopez – culture minister
  • Lee Rowley – construction and business minister
  • Alex Burghart – education minister

The letter states: “You have had the most difficult task in a generation. We hugely admire your fortitude, stamina and enduring optimism. You can be rightly proud of the significant decisions which you have, by common acclamation, got right.

“However, it has become increasingly clear that the government cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled. In good faith, we must ask that, for the good of the party and the country, you step down.”

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Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk since 2019, has resigned from his role as Private Parliamentary Secretary (PPS) in the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

In a statement on Facebook, he said the “breakdown in trust from the last six months is abundantly clear”.

“In my short time as the MP for North Norfolk, I have spoken out time and time again on matters relating to integrity, leadership and trust.

“I must remain true to my values and principles. I have felt for a considerable while that the situation cannot go on.”


Image credit | Stuart Andrew by UK Parliament is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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