Liberal Party leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and former immigration minister Inger Støjberg in parliament in December 2019. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Støjberg said that the request for her to step down had come as “a surprise”, adding that the party's leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen had insisted on her resignation.
“A number of members of the executive committee suggested that I go on leave, but it was imperative for Jakob that I should resign completely as deputy chair now,” she wrote.
“I understand that it is, among other things, due to his lack of confidence in my position on a number of political matters.”
“It comes as a surprise that it ended up here…I would have had it come out differently. But that's how it is,” she said.
“Now the Liberal Party has to find a new deputy chair. This is how it goes sometimes in politics.”
Ellemann-Jensen wrote on his Facebook page that he was “incredibly sorry” that his party would now have to look for a new deputy chair.
But he said that after Støjberg openly disagreed with his judgement that the party should back a court case against, her, he had no choice.
“This is not the first time Inger has gone against the line that the Liberal Party and I have set,” he said. After many long conversations with Inger, I, as leader of the Liberal Party, have therefore seen no other option than asking Inger to resign as deputy chair. I do that with a very heavy heart.”
The friction between Støjberg and Ellemann-Jensen, already apparent at the time Støjberg won the leadership in the spring, came to a head over Christmas after a report from the Instruction Commission concluded that Støjberg had misled parliament about an illegal order she gave to separate certain married couples at asylum centres.
Ellemann-Jensen on Sunday told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that his party would support a case against Støjberg in the Court of Impeachment of the Realm if the Commission concluded there were grounds for one.
The Executive Committee, which is part of the Liberal Party's main board, said on Tuesday night that cooperation between the two leaders had 'irreparably broken down'.
“We must state that there have been difficulties surrounding the cooperation between the Liberal Party's chairman and the Liberal Party's deputy chairman for a long time, and there is no longer any trust between the two,” it said in statement.
“A large majority in the Executive Committee supports the Liberal Party's chairman and has decided to ask Inger Støjberg to resign as deputy chairman of the party, and subsequently she has announced that she is resigning.”
Støjberg's hard line as immigration minister helped the Liberal Party limit the ability of the populist Danish People's Party to outflank it to the right on the the issue while it was in government.
But it is less useful now, when the Danish People's Party has lost much of its power, and immigration is now no longer the most pressing issue in Danish politics.