Belfast Telegraph

'This would not have been easy': Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanks 'talented' brother Jo for service after quitting

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's brother Jo has quit the Government and resigned as an MP.

Mr Johnson, the MP for Orpington, was named Minister of State for Universities and Science in his brother's Government just weeks ago.

Writing on Twitter he said that "in recent weeks I've been torn between family loyalty and the national interest".

"It's an unresolvable tension and time for others to take on my roles as MP and Minister," he wrote.

A Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister would like to thank Jo Johnson for his service.

"He has been a brilliant, talented minister and a fantastic MP. The PM, as both a politician and brother, understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo," the spokesman said.

"The constituents of Orpington could not have asked for a better representative."

Mr Johnson said that it had been "an honour" to serve as MP for Orpington for nine years and to serve as a minister under three Prime Ministers.

He is the first minister to resign from the Government since his brother succeeded Theresa May as Prime Minister.

Jo Johnson is pro-European and has previously called for a second referendum, a position that puts him at odds with the Prime Minister, who has vowed to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a Brexit deal.

Jo Johnson (Chris Radburn/PA)
Jo Johnson (Chris Radburn/PA)

It's the latest blow to Boris Johnson after MPs passed a motion forcing him to ask the European Union for another Brexit extension to prevent no-deal and rejected his call for a General Election.

Responding to the news Labour MP Ian Murray tweeted: "Even Boris Johnson's brother knows that he can't be trusted to make decisions in the national interest. This is devastating from Jo Johnson."

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "The centre of gravity in the Conservative Party is shifting rapidly."

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: "I wonder how many Tory MPs are wishing @theresa_may was still Prime Minister this morning?"

Former Tory MP David Gauke tweeted: "Lots of MPs have had to wrestle with conflicting loyalties in recent weeks. None more so than Jo. This is a big loss to Parliament, the Government and the Conservative Party."

Mr Gauke was one of 21 MPs to have the whip removed by the Conservative Party after rebelling against the party in the Commons this week.

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