Tory turmoil has led to 147 resignations and sackings in 2022’s ‘revolving door’

The resignations and firings are equivalent to one nearly every other day of 2022 so far.

The extent of turmoil in Whitehall has been laid bare by figures showing that 147 members of the government have resigned or been sacked since the start of the year.

Jane Merrick

Mass resignations in protest at Boris Johnson and wide-ranging reshuffles by his successors have led to an unprecedented number of departures of ministers and their MP aides.

Analysis by i of House of Commons Library figures shows that 32 Cabinet ministers resigned or were sacked in 2022 – not including those who were demoted or moved sideways.

Outside of the two reshuffles carried out when Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak first entered Downing Street, there were 70 government resignations or sackings.

Most notable of these ad hoc departures were Sir Gavin Williamson over bullying allegations this week, Suella Braverman as home secretary in the dying days of Ms Truss’s government, only for her to be reinstated by Mr Sunak, and Kwasi Kwarteng’s exit as chancellor over his catastrophic mini-Budget.

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The 147 resignations and firings are equivalent to one per nearly two days of 2022 so far.

To put this figure into context, there are at any one time around 185 ministers and parliamentary private secretaries – also known as ministerial bag carriers – on the government “payroll” in the Commons and Lords.

The number includes ministers who left government altogether rather than those who were demoted or moved to another department, but also takes in people who left and returned later under a new PM.

Some of the departures represent the same role – including the resignation of two prime ministers, Mr Johnson on 6 September and Ms Truss on 25 October, and three levelling up secretaries – Michael Gove, who was sacked by Mr Johnson on 6 July, his replacement Greg Clark, who left under Ms Truss, and his successor Simon Clarke, who was sacked by Mr Sunak on 25 October, only to be replaced by Mr Gove in his old job – leading to criticism of a government “revolving door”.

The first resignation of 2022 was on 24 January, when Lord Agnew quit as minister for efficiency and transformation over the government’s failure to get a grip on tackling covid fraud.

In some cases, the same people have left government more than once in 2022. Guy Opperman resigned as a junior work and pensions minister on 7 July, as part of the mass walkout over Mr Johnson’s leadership, but he was reappointed the next day when the then PM agreed to resign.

Mr Opperman then left the government for a second time on 8 September, when Ms Truss was carrying out her first and only reshuffle as prime minister.

Many of the ministers would have received payouts when they left, including £18,860 for each PM, £16,876 for each Cabinet minister, £7,920 for a minister of state and £5,593 for a parliamentary under-secretary, while ministerial aides are unpaid.

However the payouts do not apply if they returned to government within three weeks, and some ministers, including Sir Gavin, have declined the payment.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Britain deserves better than this revolving door of Tory chaos.

“The British people are paying the price for 12 years of the Conservatives, who crashed the economy and have made the cost of living crisis worse. We’re barely a few weeks into Rishi Sunak’s premiership and he’s already shown that he only offers the same failure and scandal.

“It’s time for a general election and a fresh start with Labour.”