UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two shock departures from his government Tuesday, including his finance minister, as civil war erupted in the high command of the ruling Conservative party.
Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor of the exchequer and Sajid Javid resigned as health secretary, with both saying they could no longer tolerate the culture of scandal that has stalked Johnson for months.
“The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won’t fix that,” he said in a statement, demanding a snap general election.
The resignations were announced minutes after the prime minister apologised for appointing a senior Conservative, who quit last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men.
But by Tuesday, that defence had collapsed after a former top civil servant said Johnson, as foreign minister, was told in 2019 about another incident involving his ally.
“In hindsight, it was the wrong thing to do.”
“It’s time for Boris to go. He can drag this out for a few more hours if he wants to.
The resignations came after Johnson only narrowly survived a vote of no confidence among Conservative MPs a month ago.
In a caustic resignation letter, Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.
– ‘Collapsing’ –
The prime minister’s survival in last month’s no-confidence vote gave him the opportunity to show “humility, grip and new direction”, Javid said.
Johnson has been embroiled in various scandals, including the so-called “Partygate” affair, which saw him receive a police fine for breaking his own coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Downing Street.
Pincher’s departure from the whips’ office — charged with enforcing party discipline and standards — marked yet another allegation of sexual misconduct by Tories in recent months.
That prompted a by-election in his previously safe seat, which the party went on to lose in a historic victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.
The controversies have come with Britain battling the worsening cost-of-living crisis and a summer of strikes by various unions over wages and working conditions.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a doggedly loyal cabinet ally, dismissed Sunak and Javid’s resignations as “little local difficulties”.