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Minister quits ahead of Johnson’s expected premiership

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan has quit the government ahead of Boris Johnson's expected arrival in 10 Downing Street.

In what is likely to be a number of ministerial departures in the coming days, Sir Alan resigned in order to be "free to express my views" ahead of Theresa May's own exit as prime minister.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Justice Secretary David Gauke have already announced their intention to resign this week.

Part of the so-called "Gaukeward squad" of senior Tories, the pair have explained they cannot serve in a government that pursues a no-deal Brexit.

I resigned as Foreign Office minister this morning. Here is my letter to the Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/1kpt7rHsF0

— Sir Alan Duncan MP (@AlanDuncanMP) July 22, 2019

Mr Johnson, who is widely expected to be announced as the new Conservative leader on Tuesday, has said the UK must leave the EU on 31 October "do or die".

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He has been a fierce critic of Mr Johnson in recent months – branding him a "circus act" – despite having served under him for two years when Mr Johnson was foreign secretary.

Sir Alan once described how another country's foreign minister referred to him as a "pooper scooper" at the Foreign Office, suggesting his job was clearing up Mr Johnson's mess.

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He most recently lambasted Mr Johnson over the resignation of US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch.

Sir Alan claimed Mr Johnson had thrown the UK's diplomat "under the bus" after the Tory leadership contender refused to commit to keeping Sir Kim in post, amid a diplomatic spat with US President Donald Trump.

After his resignation, Sir Kim was said to have decided "the game was up" following the lack of support from Mr Johnson.

Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson
Image: Boris Johnson is expected to become prime minister on Wednesday

Last year, after Mr Johnson compared Mrs May's Brexit strategy to a "suicide vest", Sir Alan claimed it was "one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics".

At the time, he added: "This is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn't now, I will make sure it is later."

Sir Alan Duncan thinks that Sir Kim Darroch was 'thrown under a bus' by Boris Johnson
Sir Kim was 'thrown under a bus' by Johnson

Sir Alan has supported his boss and Mr Johnson's rival – Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt – in the Conservative leadership contest.

The Rutland and Melton MP, who backed Remain at the 2016 EU referendum, was first elected to the House of Commons in 1992 and is a former Conservative Party vice-chair.

In his resignation letter to Mrs May on Monday, Sir Alan said he had served "two very different foreign secretaries".

"The UK does so much good in the world," he added.

"It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit."

He also told Mrs May that she "deserved better" and that the prime minister's "self-esteem can, and will forever, far exceed your critics".

For Boris to say that the PM’s view is like that of a suicide bomber is too much. This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics. I’m sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn’t now, I will make sure it is later. #neverfittogovern https://t.co/rdI0FWQhbi

— Sir Alan Duncan MP (@AlanDuncanMP) September 8, 2018

Former Tory minister Greg Hands was critical of Sir Alan's "pre-emptive" resignation.

He posted on Twitter: "In my view, pre-emptive ministerial resignations (If reports are true) in case your own democratically-elected Party Leader is not to your liking are absurd.

"And I say that as a committed @Jeremy_Hunt supporter. Such moves make a Corbyn Government one step more likely."

Either Mr Hunt or Mr Johnson will be declared the Conservative Party's new leader on Tuesday.

Mrs May will then visit Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon to formally resign as prime minister, with her successor entering Number 10 shortly afterwards.

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