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Boris Johnson sacks Michael Gove as he defies Cabinet calls to quit

LONDON — Boris Johnson fired one of his most senior ministers, Michael Gove, as he brushed off calls from inside his own Cabinet to resign.

A No.10 Downing Street official confirmed that the leveling-up secretary, seen as a key policy mind in Johnson’s government, had been dismissed.

A No 10 source told the BBC: “You cannot have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully briefs the press that he has called for the leader to go. You cannot operate like that.”

Mr Gove has remained suspiciously quiet in the past few days and failed to show up to support Mr Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday afternoon.

The Prime Minister reportedly fired him over the phone, telling him it was “not the first time he’s been treacherous, appalling and disloyal”.

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It came on a day of high drama that has gripped Westminster and rocked Johnson’s administration. The prime minister has been hit by a wave of senior resignations and mounting calls from top government figures for him to quit amid anger at his governing style and response to a set of scandals.

The move follows reports earlier on Wednesday that Gove, who has held multiple senior roles in Johnson’s government, had spoken to the PM and urged him to resign. Gove is the first Cabinet minister to be dismissed in the latest round of government exits.

Gove has stood by Johnson since he became leader in 2019, and was most recently tasked with delivering on the prime minister’s flagship “leveling up” agenda to improve neglected parts of the U.K.

He and Johnson were two of the most prominent figures of the campaign to leave the European Union in 2016, and have history.

Johnson was forced to dramatically rule himself out of the race to succeed David Cameron as prime minister in 2016 after Gove’s own shock entry into the contest.

The Prime Minister refused to quit on Wednesday evening despite being confronted by a delegation of Cabinet ministers telling him that his position is untenable.

The group included senior Cabinet ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Michele Donelan, who were appointed as Mr Rishi Sunak and Mr Sajid Javid’s replacements just hours earlier. Politico/Inews