Heappey and Pow respond
This morning Boris Johnson announced he would remind as Conservative Party Leader. This will lead to a leadership election and a new Prime Minister. The idea is that the new Prime Minister is in place before the Conservative Party Conference in October.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson is attempting to create a new cabinet. This will (based on the numbers as we reported yesterday) have to include some who have called for him to go.
However we have been trying to find out what exactly the position of the two Somerset MPs in government was. Particularly as so many other ministers resigned on the issue of integrity and honesty in government. The silence of Messrs Heappey and Pow was notable. Responding to tweets from Leveller.Live, James Heappey told us “I continue to serve in an important role in Govt supporting Ukraine & responding to security challenges around world that follow in the war’s wake. Many colleagues have spoken on PM’s future – I agree with what’s being said. But important national security work must continue.” Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary took a similar line this morning. But we wondered which colleagues Mr Heappey was agreeing with? Ms Dorries, Rees-Mogg and the few who wanted Johnson to stay, or the other colleagues who wanted him to go. Mr Heappey didn’t respond to that so not entirely sure where he does stand.
Rebecca Pow, Minister for the Environment declined to answer. However timing is everything. Several people including Sean Dromgoole, Somerton & frome’s Labour candidate, say they saw a resignation letter. Apparently she put it up on on twitter, but it then vanished. Be that as it may. Her actual resignation letter appeared at 10.13am this morning. Also on twitter. The problem being that the BBC’s Chris Mason first reported Johnson had announced his intention to resign at 9.11am.
Ms Pow says she has COVID which is why she did not act earlier. Of course she has our sympathy for being ill. COVID may no longer be the disease it was a year ago, it is still unpleasant. Ms Pow says in her tweet: “This week I’ve been at home with Covid-19. Earlier this morning I tendered my resignation as Environment Minister. Values, integrity and the morals by which I live are at stake, and the needs of the country must always come first.“
Nevertheless the facts remain that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it looks as if Ms Pow waited until after Johnson had resigned to publish her letter of resignation. The timing is at best embarrassing. At worst it shows a disturbing cynicism. If Ms Pow or her office wish to furnish details of the timing of her resignation letter, we will be delighted to update this article.