Five Senior Aides resign: Boris Johnson Stopped Listening To Trusted Colleagues

Published: 5 February 2022

By Shofi Ahmed

Five of Boris Johnson’s closest and most senior aides have resigned within 24 hours in the wake of the “bring your own booze partygate” scandal.

A close colleague of Johnson who worked with him for years made it clear that they would not return to Number 10 even if he asked. And said others had similar feelings. He said to The Telegraph: “He has stopped listening to the counsel of people who he has trusted throughout his career. That is a very, very concerning issue.”

Munira Mirza is among the close counsels who shunned to work with the prime minister. She resigned to lead the Number 10 Policy Unit. Ms Mirza had worked with Boris Johnson since his days in City Hall when he was the Mayor of London. Her departure was seen as a bruising loss. She criticised him over his “inappropriate and partisan” jibe at Sir Keir earlier this week, when he accused the Labour leader of “failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” during his time as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mirza’s quit, said to have sped up the announcement of the three resignations. Followed by one more senior aide that quit within 24 hours leaving Number 10 packing the pain into a single day.

Boris Johnson said that she is one of the women he admires most. Mirza has guided Mr Johnson’s policy approach more than any other, deserves that. Given that her brilliant high watermark on the 10 Downing Street’s chalkboard was dizzyingly high. Following her the top aids that showed Johnson the tail is bushier, the eyes are brighter and the coat is sleeker have deserted him. Done the honourable thing sticking to principle. They resigned.

Munira Mirza whose family hailed from Pakistan was a vocal proponent of Brexit. She was born in Oldham and had two older brothers and an older sister. She went to Breeze Hill School until 16, then moved to Oldham Sixth Form College for her A-levels. She was the only pupil in her Sixth Form college to get a place at Oxford University. There she studied English Literature at Mansfield College, graduating in 1999. She then completed an MA in Social Research in 2004 and a PhD in Sociology in 2009, both at the University of Kent.

Mirza was appointed Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit on 24 July 2019, replacing James Marshall. She was already a high roller. Worked as Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture when Johnson was Mayor of London. Before that she worked as Development Director for the conservative think-tank Policy Exchange from 2005 to 2007. It was there she edited a collection of essays, Culture Vultures: Is UK Arts Policy Damaging the Arts?, which challenged the government’s efforts to promote socially inclusive arts. And wrote Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism.

Mirza worked for the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson from 2008 to 2016, initially as Cultural Adviser, and Director of Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries. From 2012, she was one of six Deputy Mayors. She advised the Mayor on priorities for culture and education and led the delivery of key programmes, including £40m education and youth investment in London. In 2014, Mirza said that she was not a Conservative.

Her book The Politics of Culture: The Case for Universalism was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.In it she argued that consensus about the value of cultural diversity had bred ambivalence. In 2020, Johnson named her as one of the five women whom he “most admires”.

Ms Mirza was quickly replaced by Andrew Griffith, a former Sky executive turned MP who granted Mr Johnson use of his home for leadership campaigning in 2019. Given his scant experience of crafting policy, the choice perplexed some Tory MPs.

Antonia Romeo, the Justice Department’s permanent secretary was offered the newly created Number 10 permanent secretary position. But she declined. Johnson went on creating a new “Office of the Prime Minister” on Tuesday. Nonetheless, apparently he had more empty desks at the end of the week than at the beginning.

Summing up the public reaction to the news headlines announced “five resignations,” some said that sounded like rats leaping off a sinking ship in unison.