The two senior Cabinet ministers announced their departures within minutes of each other, just as the prime minister apologised saying he had made a mistake by appointing Conservative MP Chris Pincher as the deputy chief whip in the House of Commons despite sexual misconduct complaints against him.
But Pincher resigned last week from that post after confessing in a letter to Johnson that he had “drank far too much”, embarrassed himself and “caused upset” to people. The British media reported that Pincher had sexually assaulted two male guests at the Carlton Club in London. Pincher has also faced several previous allegations of sexual misconduct.
In his resignation letter shared on Twitter, Sunak, the eldest son of Indian immigrants, wrote he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that “we cannot continue like this”.
The 42-year-old 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’s resignation letter, also posted on his Twitter account, said that although Johnson survived a vote of no-confidence last month, the ruling Conservative Party was neither showing competence nor acting in the national interest.
“I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too,” Javid wrote in his letter.
After their announcement, Johnson immediately began reshuffling his Cabinet. He appointed Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi as his new finance minister. Steve Barclay, who was Johnson’s chief of staff, replaced Javid as health secretary, the BBC reported.
Besides Sunak and Javid, Conservative Party’s Vice Chairperson Bim Afolami, Trade envoy to Tunisia and Morocco Andrew Murrison and Johnson’s ministerial aides Jonathan Gullis and Saqib Bhatti have also left their roles, the BBC reported. More resignations are expected to follow suit, according to the public broadcaster.
On Wednesday, British Minister for Children and Families Will Quince resigned from his post, saying that he was leaving as he was given an inaccurate briefing about Johnson’s appointment of Pincher, reported HuffPost.
“It is with great sadness and regret that I feel that I have no choice but to tender my resignation as Minister for Children and Families as I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith,” he said in his resignation letter posted on Twitter.
Following the briefing, Quince had said in an interview that he had been given a “categorical assurance” that Johnson was not aware of any specific allegations against Pincher. This, however, turned out to be false as the government admitted that the prime minister had been briefed about the investigation into Pincher’s conduct.
Meanwhile, soon after Tuesday’s resignations, Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would welcome a snap election. “After all the sleaze, all the failure, it’s clear that this Tory government is now collapsing,” the Opposition party leader added.
General elections are to be held in 2024 but Johnson can call one if he wants, according to the BBC. Since he survived the confidence vote in May, the prime minister cannot face another one for a year unless Conservative Party rules are changed. Therefore, Cabinet resignations could be a move to force him to resign.
The no-confidence motion was introduced after 54 Conservative Party MPs demanded that Johnson resign as he and his staff members held parties during lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease. The fiasco has been dubbed as the partygate scandal.