Four of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior aides have quit Downing Street, including his policy chief Munira Mirza.
With Johnson still feeling the reverberations of the so-called ‘partygate’ scandal and under fire for remarks he made about Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mirza and three other top advisers – Jack Doyle, Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds – have also gone.
Allies of the Prime Minister have said that he was already planning to make changes to his top team. So who is Munira Mirza, and why has she resigned?
READ MORE: What did Boris say about Jimmy Savile? Starmer slams PM over “ridiculous slur” – and Savile’s victims demand apology
Who is Munira Mirza?
Munira Mirza is the former director of the Number 10 Policy Unit – providing policy advice directly to the Prime Minister – under Boris Johnson.
Born in Oldham in 1978, she was educated at Mansfield College, Oxford, and then went on to obtain a masters degree from the University of Kent.
Mirza was a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), a tiny ex-Trotskyist political sect that later ended up on a right-wing political trajectory. A number of the RCP’s alumni have continued to form a tight network increasingly influential in Conservative circles.
After the RCP was dissolved in 1997, some of its staff went on to found Spiked, a right-wing online magazine. Mirza has written articles for the site.
She later went on to work at Policy Exchange, a Tory think-tank, overlapping with her time working for Boris Johnson while he was Mayor of London. Initially an adviser on cultural and arts policy, she was appointed one of Johnson’s six deputy mayors in 2012.
Munira Mirza supported Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum – comparing the end result to the Magna Carta – and was appointed head of Johnson’s Policy Unit in 2019.
Why has Munira Mirza resigned?
Munira Mirza has quit as Boris Johnson’s top policy adviser, citing remarks the PM made suggesting that Keir Starmer was at fault for failing to prosecute pedophile Jimmy Savile in 2009.
The remarks prompted uproar on the Labor benches and criticism from some Conservative MPs, uncomfortable at the Prime Minister’s decision to link Starmer to the Savile case.
While Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions at the time it was decided not to prosecute Savile over child sexual abuse complaints made in 2007 and 2008, it was a junior reviewing lawyer – not Starmer himself – who took that decision.
in on open letterMirza said that while it had been “a privilege” to work for Johnson for 14 years, she said his reference to the Savile case had “no fair or reasonable basis” and was “a grave error of judgement”.
“This was not the normal cut-and-thrust of politics; it was an inappropriate and partisan reference to a horrendous case of child sex abuse,” she said.
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