(London) Tired of repeated scandals, two top British ministers slammed the door minutes apart on Tuesday night, a blow to increasingly weakened Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Posted at 2:07pm
Health Minister Sajid Javid handed in his resignation, saying in a letter posted to Twitter that the prime minister had “lost his confidence”. He was followed minutes later by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak.
It was “clear that this government is collapsing,” said Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, calling for new elections.
The two resignations come as Boris Johnson had just issued a public apology and acknowledged he made a “mistake” in appointing Chris Pincher to his government in February, who resigned last week after being accused of touching two men to have.
Downing Street initially denied having been made aware of previous allegations against this deputy chief “whip” responsible for parliamentary discipline of Conservative MPs.
A version discredited by a former senior official who urged Downing Street to acknowledge on Tuesday that the Prime Minister had indeed been briefed on allegations against Mr Pincher in 2019 but had “forgotten” by naming him.
“I think it was a mistake (appointing him to the government) and I apologize for that,” Mr Johnson said after being accused again of lying.
The Pincher affair was “the icing on the cake” for the two ministers, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told Sky News.
“It’s time for Boris to go. If he wants, he can leave it for a few hours. But I and a large part of the party are now determined that he will be gone before the summer holidays: the sooner the better,” added he added.
Boris Johnson was already significantly weakened by the Downing Street party affair, despite the restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. It earned him a fine and a vote of no confidence from his own camp, which he narrowly survived last month.
There have been several sex cases in Parliament: an MP suspected of rape was arrested and released on bail in mid-May, another resigned in April for viewing pornography on his cellphone in Parliament, and a former MP was jailed in May sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old.
The departure of these two MPs caused partial general elections and heavy defeats for the Conservatives. The party had already achieved a very poor result in the local elections in May.
These scandals come amid a tense social climate in which Britons are angered by inflation, at its highest level in 40 years, and the origin of strikes in several sectors of activity.
“The public has a right to expect the government to be run competently and honestly,” and “therefore I am resigning,” wrote Mr. Sunak, 42.
For his part, Mr Javid, 52, judged that Britons are entitled to expect “integrity from their government”. “Unfortunately, I have to say that it is clear to me that this will not be the case under your leadership – and that is why you have lost my trust,” he wrote to the Prime Minister.
According to a YouGov Institute poll on Tuesday night, 69 percent of British voters believe the once-popular Boris Johnson should resign.
He, who has always refused to give up his post despite the crises, has already named the successors to the resigning ministers.
Nadhim Zahawi, former education minister, will take on the finance portfolio, while Steve Barclay, previously responsible for government coordination, will take on the health care portfolio.
Other ministers, including Secretary of State Liz Truss, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, continue to support Mr Johnson, sources close to them said.