Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have both quit the Cabinet in a devastating blow for Boris Johnson that risks ending his premiership.
Going public with their statements just minutes apart, the Chancellor and Health Secretary attacked their boss’s conduct in office, warning there was a need for change at the top. There has been mounting pressure on Mr Johnson over the past days after it emerged he had appointed Tory MP Chris Pincher to a key welfare position in Government despite being aware of specific allegations of sexual assault against him.
Furious backbench Conservatives had been demanding members of the Prime Minister’s top team resign in a bid to force out the Tory leader.
In his letter of resignation, Mr Sunak said “the public rightly expect Government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, adding “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
Meanwhile, Mr Javid wrote: “We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.
“Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither.”
The latest crisis to engulf the Prime Minister comes less than a month after he survived a confidence vote against him.
The Conservative leader survived despite 41 percent of his MPs voting against him.
Under party rules another vote against Mr Johnson cannot be organised for a year.
Critics of the Prime Minister hope mass resignations from Government will help force an end to the current leadership.
The party’s vice-chairman, Bim Afolami, and a string of junior members of Government have also resigned tonight.
However, some senior cabinet members, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, and Nadine Dorries have said they remain loyal to the Prime Minister.
Shrugging off the resignations, Brexit opportunities minister Mr Rees-Mogg told Channel 4: “It’s the Prime Minister who has a mandate from the British people and then he appoints a cabinet, and some people don’t want to serve it in anymore but they’re eminently replaceable.”
At a meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street this morning, Mr Johnson’s top team were pictured looking glum-faced and fed up.
The scandal surrounding Mr Pincher followed the losses of the crunch by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield in June.
Focus groups have also shown continued anger among voters across the country at the so-called Partygate saga that plagued the Government earlier this year.
Responding to the resignations of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer said: “After all the sleaze, the scandals and the failure, it’s clear that this Government is now collapsing.
“Tory cabinet ministers have known all along who this Prime Minister is.
“They have been his cheerleaders throughout this sorry saga. Backing him when he broke the law. Backing him when he lied repeatedly. Backing him when he mocked the sacrifices of the British people.
“In doing so, they have been complicit every step of the way as he has disgraced his office and let down his country.
“If they had a shred of integrity they would have gone months ago.”
Today’s ramped-up pressure on Mr Johnson came after Lord McDonald, who used to be one of Britain’s most senior civil servants, wrote to the Standards Commissioner to accuse Mr Johnson of lying.
In a scathing letter, he said No10 had been wrong when they claimed Mr Johnson was unaware of any sexual harassment complaints against Mr Pincher prior to making him deputy chief whip in February.
The ex-civil servant said the Prime Minister was “not telling the truth” about what he knew and that his attention has been drawn to a complaint which was upheld when Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.
He wrote: “Five days after Mr Pincher’s resignation as deputy chief whip, there remains significant confusion surrounding complaints about his behaviour prior to the drunkness he admits at the Carlton Club on 29 June.”
Lord McDonald added: “Inaccurate claims by 10 Downing Street continue to be repeated in the media. On 3 July, the BBC website report: ‘No official complaints against [Mr Pincher] ever were made.’
“This is not true in the summer of 2019, shortly after he was appointed as minister of state at the Foreign Office, a group of officials complained to me about Mr Pincher’s behaviour.
“I discussed the matter with the relevant official in the Cabinet Office. (In substance the allegations made were similar to those about his behaviour in the Carlton Club).
“An investigation upheld the complaint; Mr Pincher apologised and promised not to repeat the inappropriate behaviour.” (Express.co.uk)