Alan Duncan has refused to rule out voting against Boris Johnson in a no-confidence motion to stop no-deal Brexit.
Duncan resigned as a Foreign Office minister ahead of the expected coronation of Johnson later today. In his letter of resignation to Theresa May, Duncan said he was quitting “in order to be free to express my views in advance of you relinquishing office”.
The Guardian points out that Duncan is “the latest in a string of ministers to pre-emptively quit their jobs in protest at [Johnson’s] likely direction as prime minister”.
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Jonathan Blake of the BBC says: “Just as staunch Brexiteers made life difficult for Theresa May, those who oppose a no-deal Brexit in any circumstances will do the same.”
However, while many say such moves will make Johnson uncomfortable, the Daily Telegraph’s Asa Bennett says Johnson and his “fans” must be “delighted” to watch his biggest critics “fleeing government”.
Duncan, who described Brexit as a “dark cloud” in his resignation letter, asked for an emergency Commons debate to give MPs a chance to say whether they supported Johnson's “wish to form a government”. However, the request for such a debate was rejected by the Speaker, John Bercow.
Duncan told the BBC he did not have any personal animosity towards Johnson and “wanted him to succeed”.
However, he added, he was worried by the former London mayor's “fly by the seat of his pants, haphazard” style and feared Johnson was going to go “smack into a crisis of government”.
He has previously described Johnson as a “circus act” unfit to govern the country and said that he was a professional “pooper-scooper” for Boris when he was foreign secretary.
In his resignation letter, he spoke of Brexit, saying it was “tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit”.
Duncan praised May for her “faultless dignity and an unstinting sense of duty”. He said that she “deserved better” than to have her time in office “brought to an end” in such circumstances.
In reply, May told Duncan his record in government is “a testament both to your own hard work and that of the dedicated public servants who work for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at home and overseas”.
Duncan’s resignation came after Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke said they intended to resign if Johnson is elected Tory leader.
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