‘NOT a hammer blow’ Tories declare Frost ‘not irreplaceable’ for Boris after surprise exit

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It is understood Mr Johnson had asked Lord Frost to delay his departure to avoid further destabilisation of his premiership but the decision leaked out.

Tory MPs admitted it was bruising for the PM but insisted the resignation was a blip.

Senior Conservative Simon Hoare said: “The graveyard is full of people who think that they are irreplaceable. None of us are.

“We can resign, we can step aside, we can disappear off the stage. Somebody comes in to fill our shoes.

“So, a blow, but not a hammer blow and certainly not a body blow.”

Lord Frost said he was unhappy that Covid restrictions had not proved “irreversible” as promised.

He also expressed frustration over the government’s plan to increase national insurance to pay for social care, saying he wanted the UK to become a “lightly regulated, low-tax” country.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Lord Frost was a “man of principle” but insisted Mr Johnson is still the right leader for the country.

“I think Boris Johnson is the best person to take us through the challenges the country faces,” he said.

“We’ve had one very disappointing election result and from that, you cannot take away the ability of Boris Johnson to win election after election.”

Lord Frost had agreed with Mr Johnson to leave his job in January but resigned with “immediate effect” on Saturday night after the decision became public.

It marked the end of a dismal week for Mr Johnson after he suffered an unprecedented rebellion over covid restrictions followed by a major defeat in the North Shropshire by-election.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said he agreed with Lord Frost’s concerns about the direction of the Government.

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He said: “Boris has led this country exceptionally well… But what comes next? And that’s what I think Lord Frost is talking about.

“And I think part of that rebellion of 100 Conservative MPs was partly due to the fact that we want to see the Prime Minister move to a more conservative agenda in future.”

Mr Bone said he was frustrated by the prospect of “coercive measures” to control coronavirus.

“I’ve cancelled all in-person meetings and the get-together with staff, I cancelled. I won’t be going to crowded places, but leave that up to the individual to make that decision, don’t have the state telling me what I have to do every day, and so in that regard, yes I’m with Lord Frost on that,” he said.

Lord Frost was in negotiations with the EU over ways to end the customs problems caused by Northern Ireland Protocol, which was struck to avoid a hard Irish border.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was “very concerned” about the resignation of Lord Frost at “this crucial time”.

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