Andrew Mitchell has just announced his resignation as chief whip following the row about his altercation with a police officer at the Downing Street gates.
His resignation letter, which you can read in full here says:
‘Over the last two days it has become clear to me that whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I will not be able to fulfil my duties as we would both wish. Nor is it fair to continue to put my family and colleagues through this upsetting and damaging publicity.
‘I have made clear to you – and I give you my categorical assurance again – that I did not, never have and never would call a police officer a ‘pleb’ or a ‘moron’ or used any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me. The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark ‘I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us’. It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology.’
‘Thank you for your letter. I was sorry to receive it, but I understand why you have reached the conclusion you have, and why you have decided to resign from the Government.
‘I regret that this has become necessary, and am very grateful for all you have done, both in Government and in Opposition – as well as for the kind words in your letter.’
David Cameron adds in the letter:
‘As we discussed in advance of the reshuffle, I wanted you to bring your organisational skill and energy to the important job of chief whip. It was clear to me that you had already made a strong start.
‘As you have acknowledged, the incident in Downing Street was no acceptable and you were right to apologise for it.
‘You have much to be proud of from your service on the frontbench both in opposition and in government, and in your continued service to your constituents in Sutton Coldfield. I hope that, in time, you will be able to make a further contribution to public life.’
Mitchell appeared to have survived PMQs this week, although he did manage to stoke the row by mouthing that he didn’t swear. But as we revealed on Wednesday afternoon, his own team of whips no longer believed he had authority. He could have clung on a lot longer, but a series of embarrassing rebellions would have eventually shown him up.
UPDATE, 7.47pm: James breaks the news that Mitchell is to be replaced by Sir George Young.Tags: Andrew Mitchell, chief whip, Conservatives, UK politics