Children’s Minister resigns after repeating ‘inaccurate’ assurances from Boris Johnson

Children’s Minister, Will Quince, MP has handed in his resignation to Boris Johnson’s government, having been sent out to publicly defend the prime minister over the Chris Pincher scandal

Boris Johnson has faced a string of resignations over his appointment of Chris Pincher as his deputy chief whip, most notably Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid. Michelle Donelan is now the new Education Secretary and was also a former Children’s Minister.

Quince said he had been “categorically” assured that Boris Johnson was not aware of any specific complaints about Chris Pincher. This assurance was untrue because the PM was told in 2020 of a full formal complaint that was upheld.

In his resignation, Quince stated:

“Dear Prime Minister. Thank you for meeting with me yesterday evening and for your sincere apology regarding the briefings I received from No 10 ahead of Monday’s media round, which we now know to be inaccurate.

“It is with great sadness and regret that I feel that I have no choice but to tender my resignation as Minister for Children and Families as I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith.

“It has been an honour to serve in government since 2019 at both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education.

“Reaching this decision has not been easy. Stepping away from a job I love, where we are working every day to improve the life chances of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people up and down our country, pains me greatly.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“While we of course understand and respect the reasons for Mr Quince’s resignation, it is incredibly concerning to have lost the children and families minister mere days after the launch of a key consultation into early years ratios, especially in light of the simultaneous change to the role of education secretary. 

“Over recent years, the early years has seen a seemingly endless stream of ministers come and go, leaving us with a patchwork of disjointed policies and no long-term vision for our vital sector. If we are to have any chance of building a quality, affordable, sustainable early education and care system in this country, we need consistent, stable leadership and a clear strategy to get us to that point. Sadly, as it stands, this seems a very unlikely ambition.”

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said:

“The resignation of Will Quince today leaves the early years sector in an unsettled position yet again. In these turbulent times, the early years workforce always gets on with the job providing the much-needed continuity of education, care and safety for our youngest children and their families. What they need right now is urgent support from the Government to keep them sustainable.

We are sad to see Mr Quince leave his role suddenly and thank him for his contribution, taking the time to visit many settings during his tenure as Children’s Minister.

“However, we would urge his successor to prioritise the urgent financial support that settings need. We have always said this is not the right time to consult on ratios. We will need the new minister to urgently review the childcare funding system and address their workforce challenges.

“We look forward to working with Michelle Donelan, the new Education Secretary, also a former Children’s Minister – we will be writing to her to request a meeting.”