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Boris Johnson’s premiership rocked by further ministerial resignations, citing Chris Pincher and Owen Paterson sagas

Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, and Rishi Sunak.

Toby Melville-WPA Pool/Getty Images

  • Boris Johnson’s premiership has been hit by a string of resignations, over his handling of the Chris Pincher saga.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned from the Cabinet Tuesday evening.
  • They were followed by three more ministers and eight ministerial aides and trade envoys.

Boris Johnson’s premiership has been rocked by a string of damaging resignations ranging from senior Cabinet ministers to junior ministerial aides and trade envoys.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid quit shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday as Johnson offered an apology in a pre-recorded interview with the BBC for appointing Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip in February 2022. It had been the “wrong thing to do”, Johnson admitted.

Pincher was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club on Wednesday. He resigned but initially was not suspended from the party. The whip was withdrawn on Friday, following outcry from Tory MP.s

The prime minister’s team had initially denied that there had been formal complaints made against Pincher, and claimed that Johnson was unaware of allegations against him when he appointed him deputy chief whip.

Following an unprecedented intervention by former top Foreign Office official Simon McDonald, making clear that the prime minister had received an in-person briefing about allegations against Pincher, Johnson’s spokesman later claimed that he had forgotten the incident.

—Simon McDonald (@SimonMcDonaldUK) July 5, 2022

 

In their resignation letters, which came hours after McDonald’s explosive letter, Sunak and Javid explicitly criticised Johnson’s leadership and failures to uphold standards in the government.

Sunak said: “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.”

Javid said “the public are concluding” that the government is neither popular nor “competent in acting in the national interest”.

Their resignations were followed by junior ministers, including Alex Chalk, the solicitor general who had long been on the so-called watch list over partygate.

Chalk said he could not “defend the indefensible”, and called for “fresh leadership”. He added that “public confidence in the ability of Number 10 to uphold the standards of candour expected of a British Government has irretrievably broken down… I regret that I share that judgement”.

Two education ministers – Will Quince, who has responsibilities for children, and school standards Robin Walker – resigned Wednesday morning, leaving the department with three vacancies.

Quince resigned saying he had “accepted and repeated assurances on Monday” during a round of interviews with broadcasters “which have now found to be inaccurate”.

Walker wrote that the loss of Sunak and Javid “reflects a worrying narrowing of the broad church that I believe any Conservative government should seek to achieve”, and that the party had become distracted by “a relentless focus on questions over leadership”.

In addition to the ministerial resignations, a number of parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs) have quit their roles on the lowest rung of the ministerial ladder, as well as trade envoys. Included among them were arch loyalists Andrew Murrison and Jonathan Gullis, MPs from the 2001 and 2019 intakes respectively, and party vice chairman Bim Afolami, who quit live on TV.

—The News Desk (@TheNewsDesk) July 5, 2022

 

Johnson began a mini-reshuffle Tuesday evening, promoting education secretary Nadhim Zahawi to chancellor. Zahawi was replaced with universities minister Michelle Donelan.

Steve Barclay, Johnson’s chief of staff and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, replaced Javid as health secretary.

But the pressure continues on Johnson Wednesday, where he is due before MPs for his weekly clash at PMQs, and then a grilling by select committee chairs at the Liaison Committee.

Conservative MPs also begin the process of elections for the executive of the 1922 Committee on Wednesday, paving the way to change the body’s rules to permit another vote of confidence in Johnson to unseat him.


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