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3 February 2022

Munira Mirza’s resignation is a hammer blow to Boris Johnson

The departure of the Prime Minister’s longest-serving aide makes it harder than ever for him to survive.

By Stephen Bush

Munira Mirza, Boris Johnson’s chief policy adviser and his longest-serving aide, has resigned from Downing Street, citing the Prime Minister’s false claim that Keir Starmer was personally responsible for the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile. There was “no fair or reasonable basis” for the Prime Minister’s remarks, she said. 

Mirza’s exit is a hammer blow to Johnson. She has worked with him since his time as mayor of London and has been an essential part of his inner circle, even as his political persona has faded and other close allies have departed. (One civil servant responded to the news by saying, “My god. She was the only one I felt actually liked him.”) She was one of the major architects of the government’s political and policy positioning on a wide range of issues.

Inevitably in politics, the resignation of a staff member when a Prime Minister’s position is under pressure invites people to treat their expressed motives with cynicism. But whether you believe Mirza’s public justification or not, this is a big moment in the life of Boris Johnson’s administration: his longest-serving and, in many ways, most indispensable aide is quitting Downing Street. It is far from clear that there is anyone who can properly replace her, and far from clear that Johnson’s government can function (to the extent that it ever did) without her.

Mirza’s resignation is a sign that Johnson’s government is in perhaps terminal trouble, and that his inner circle is in turmoil. It is hard to see how Johnson can ever truly recover from his present crisis – even if Tory MPs prove to be so inept at wielding the knife that it falls to the electorate to deliver the fatal blow.

[See also: Why Boris Johnson is beyond saving]

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