Will Quince resigns after being sent on TV to defend Boris Johnson with wrong information

Minister's resignation follows departure of chancellor and health secretary

Britain's minister for Families Will Quince resigned on Wednesday, saying he had no choice after being sent on TV to defend Boris Johnson with inaccurate information. AFP
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British minister for children and families Will Quince resigned on Wednesday, saying he could not accept being sent out to defend the Prime Minister on television with inaccurate information about the latest scandal to hit the UK government.

He was swiftly followed by Laura Trott, who quit as a ministerial aide, saying “trust in politics is – and must always be – of the utmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost”.

Their resignations on Wednesday morning followed a string of departures from the Government on Tuesday evening, led by Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid who delivered broadsides at Mr Johnson as they quit their Cabinet posts.

Mr Quince's resignation comes two days after he went on television to defend Mr Johnson's handling of sleaze allegations surrounding Chris Pincher, who held a key government position responsible for ensuring MPs behaviour but was accused of groping male MPs while drunk. He said he had been told Mr Johnson was unaware of complaints against Mr Pincher.

The Prime Minister later acknowledged he had previously been informed of allegations against Mr Pincher dating back to 2019 and said he regretted keeping him in government beyond that point.

Mr Quince said he had received a “sincere apology” from Mr Johnson for being sent out with an “inaccurate” briefing about the Prime Minister’s knowledge of events.

But he said “I have no choice but to tender my resignation” as “I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith”.

Mr Johnson's version of events was further demolished by the former head of the diplomatic service, who on Tuesday said Downing Street's line was not true.

"Thank you for meeting with me yesterday evening and for your sincere apology regarding the briefings I received from No. 10 ahead of Monday's media round, which we now know to be inaccurate," he said in his resignation letter to Johnson which was posted on Twitter.

"It is with great sadness and regret that I feel that I have no choice but to tender my resignation as Minister for Children and Families as I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith."

In his resignation letter, Mr Quince said: “Reaching this decision has not been easy. Stepping away from a job I love, where we are working every day to improve the life chances of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people up and down our country, pains me greatly.

“I will miss it hugely but pledge to do all I can to continue this important work from the backbenches.

“I would like to take this opportunity to put on record my sincere thanks to the hundreds of dedicated and hard-working civil servants with whom it has been a pleasure to work.”

Mr Sunak’s replacement as Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, hinted at reversing a planned rise in corporation tax as part of the effort to restore trust between the leadership and Tory MPs.

But the Cabinet reshuffle does not appear to have persuaded Mr Johnson’s critics to hold fire.

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Updated: July 06, 2022, 8:14 AM