7 most significant cabinet resignations under Cameron and May

Liam Fox

The resignations of Michael Fallon and Priti Patel have dominated the news-cycle for the past week and a half. Here are the most significant cabinet resignations since 2010.

1. David Laws

The first major scalp in the coalition’s five-year reign was the resignation of David Laws as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. According to the Telegraph, he stepped aside just weeks after the formation of the coalition government following allegations that he had used public money to rent property from his partner.

At the time, the resignation was seen as a major blow to the government, which was supposed to be enjoying its honeymoon period.

2. Liam Fox

This former GP and multi-time Tory leadership contender returned to government following Theresa May’s ascension to the premiership in 2016 – this time as the Secretary of State for International Trade – five years after he stepped down as the Coalition’s defence secretary. According to the BBC, he resigned from his first government role following revelations about the “blurred” relationship he had with friend and "colleague" Adam Werrity.

In his resignation letter, he wrote:

“I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.”

Liam Fox MP

3. Andrew Mitchell

The 2012 incident that led to Mitchell’s resignation became known as plebgate. At the time, the Guardian reported that he stepped down following allegations that he had called a policeman a “pleb”.

Mitchell had only been promoted to the role of Chief Whip the month before, and continues to sit in parliament to this day.

4. Maria Miller

In 2014, the then Culture Secretary stepped down from the government front-bench over her handling of an expenses issue. She was forced to apologise about her expenses, an apology that lasted just over half a minute, and was therefore widely criticised, according to the Guardian.

This was followed by her resignation.

5. Ian Duncan Smith

The only significant change in the Cameron majority administration – which lasted just over a year – was the resignation of former Tory leader IDS in March 2016. The Brexiteer was the country’s Work and Pensions Secretary, but resigned over plans for further cuts to disability benefits, as reported by the BBC.

In his letter (via the BBC), he wrote:

“I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest.”

6. Michael Fallon

Theresa May’s first government made no changes, but her second – following her failed bid to enhance her majority – saw the return or Michael Gove and a number of other moves and shakes. The most significant changes in this government have happened in a last week and a bit.

Last week, Michael Fallon resigned as Defence Secretary, and was replaced – surprisingly – by Chief Whip Gavin Williamson.

Michael Fallon at EDF's Teesside offshore windfarm

7. Priti Patel

One week later, Priti Patel stepped down from her role at the Department for International Development.

She was replaced by Penny Mordaunt.

Priti Patel

When will the next resignation be?