09/05/2019 06:40 EDT | Updated 09/05/2019 06:59 EDT

Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's Brother, Resigns From Parliament

"I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest," the prime minister's brother wrote.

Press Association
Jo Johnson visits the European Commission in Brussels on March 28, 2017. He has resigned as a minister in his brother's government and as an MP. 

Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s brother, has resigned as a minister and MP for Orpington.

“In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it’s an unresolvable tension and time for others to take on my roles as MP and minister,” he said in a surprise announcement on Thursday morning.

He has been appointed a universities minister when his brother became prime minister last month.

Jo Johnson raised eyebrows by accepting the position in his brother’s government given he had been a vocal supporter of holding a second Brexit referendum.

The move adds to Boris Johnson’s woes, after MPs rejected his call for a snap general election.

The opposition Labour Party refused to agree to the prime minister’s bid for an Oct. 15 election, amid fears it was a “trap” that would allow him to later move the polling day until after a no-deal exit from the EU.

It came after a rebel bill designed to require the government to ask for an Article 50 extension was passed by the Commons.

Downing Street said the prime minister will this afternoon “speak directly to the public, setting out the vital choice that faces our country.”

Boris Johnson has triggered a backlash among his own MPs after he purged the parliamentary party of those who voted in favor of an Article 50 extension.

This story has been updated.

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