Four senior aides to Boris Johnson have resigned from Downing Street within hours of each other amid growing pressure on the prime minister.
Director of communications Jack Doyle confirmed his exit shortly after the departure of policy head Munira Mirza.
They were followed by the chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and senior civil servant Martin Reynolds.
The top aides’ resignations come as Mr Johnson faces increasing questions over his leadership from within his party.
Mr Doyle told staff that “recent weeks have taken a terrible toll on my family life”, but that he had always intended to leave after two years.
However, Ms Mirza quit over the PM’s false claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile when he was director of public prosecutions, and his refusal to apologise.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak publicly distanced himself from the PM’s original comment, saying: “Being honest, I wouldn’t have said it.”
And asked if Mr Johnson should apologise, he said: “That’s for the prime minister to decide.”
A statement from a No 10 spokeswoman said Mr Rosenfield had offered his resignation to the PM earlier on Thursday, but would stay on while his successor was found.
Mr Reynolds – who was the principal private secretary to the prime minister – will do the same, but then return to a role at the Foreign Office
The wave of resignations comes at a tumultuous time for Mr Johnson as backbench unrest is growing within the Conservative Party.
The BBC is aware of 17 Tory MPs who have in the prime minister, with a total of 54 needed to trigger a leadership contest.
Many have cited the PM’s participation in as their motivation to challenge Mr Johnson.
But some have also pointed to his remark about Sir Keir, including senior backbencher and defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood.