Boris Johnson was dealt a heavy blow last night as the departure of two cabinet ministers began a series of resignations from the government.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced their resignations in quick succession yesterday evening amidst mounting pressure on the Prime Minister over his handling of Chris Pincher’s misconduct allegations.
The upheaval came just one month after Johnson’s survival of a no-confidence motion by his own MPs.
In his resignation letter, Sunak said: “To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time. For me to step down as Chancellor while the world is suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision that I have not taken lightly.
“However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
More than a dozen ministers and ministerial aides have now resigned from the government in the past 24 hours, including vice-Conservative Party chair Bim Afolami, who resigned live on air in a TalkTV interview.
Nadhim Zahawi and Steve Barclay have been appointed as Sunak and Javid’s replacements respectively.
The Prime Minister has faced wide criticism for Downing Street’s reaction to misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher.
The former deputy chief whip resigned the office on Thursday 30 June following allegations he groped two men at a private members’ club.
However further allegations, which Pincher have denied, subsequently emerged against him dating as far back as 2012.
Johnson initially said he was unaware of these allegations when he appointed Pincher, but conceded on Monday he had known about them and claimed to have forgotten.
The BBC has also reported that Johnson was made aware of disciplinary proceedings against Pincher which confirmed misconduct while the Tamworth MP was a Foreign Office minister.
The Prime Minister has faced widespread calls to resign since the ‘Partygate‘ scandal emerged late last year.
He survived a no-confidence motion from Conservative MPs on 6 June, although 41% voted against him.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has signalled his support for a snap general election if one were to be called in the coming weeks.
He said: “This government is collapsing, the Tory party is corrupted, and changing one man at the top of the Tory party won’t fix the problems.”