Jo Johnson quits as universities minister and MP

Prime minister’s brother cites ‘unresolvable tension’ between ‘family loyalty and the national interest’

September 5, 2019
Jo Johnson
Source: Getty

Jo Johnson, reappointed as universities and science minister little more than a month ago, has announced that he is quitting as a minister and standing down as an MP.

An ardent pro-Remain campaigner during the European Union referendum, he had been reappointed at the end of July by the UK’s new prime minister, his brother Boris.

But today, Jo Johnson tweeted that in recent weeks he had been “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”. “It’s an unresolvable tension [and it’s] time for others to take on my roles as MP and minister,” he said.

This week’s purge of Tory moderates from the party by Boris Johnson – after the rebels backed a plan to prevent the new government from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal – may have been a factor in his decision.

His departure means that a new universities and science minister will take up the post – a new minister unlikely to share the pro-European views of the departing Jo Johnson.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister would like to thank Jo Johnson for his service. He has been a brilliant, talented minister and a fantastic MP.

“The PM, as both a politician and brother, understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo. The constituents of Orpington could not have asked for a better representative.”

Jo Johnson was expected to step down as an MP for Orpington at the next general election, expected later this autumn.

Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, said: “Boris Johnson poses such a threat that even his own brother doesn’t trust him.

“We have now had four higher education ministers in two years - just the latest sign of the chaos that the Tories have caused to education and the threat that a disastrous no deal Brexit poses to our colleges and universities.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

I see this form of 'lazy' reporting quite alot and bears repeating here - EU is not Europe. EU reflects a *select* number of European countries. Being a pro-Remain should not be used interchangeably with pro-Europe. Pro-Remain is pro-EU, not pro-Europe. Incidentally, pro-UK should not also be used in contradiction to anti-Europe etc... It is possible for pro-UK, pro-Europe, and pro-EU to co-exist harmoniously. Do not fabricate false conflicts when there is none that is logically implied.

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