Britain’s finance and health ministers have resigned, as have other members of parliament and staff, in moves casting further doubt on the future of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership
Health secretary Sajid Javid said he could “no longer continue” in his position “in good conscience”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his resignation minutes after Mr Javid’s statement.
“I believe standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning,” Mr Sunak said in a statement.
MPs Nicola Richards, Saqib Bhatti, Jonathan Gullis and Virginia Crosbie – all parliamentary aides – had all confirmed their resignations by early Wednesday (Australian time).
“The Conservative party has always been the party of integrity and honour but recent events have undermined trust and standards in public life,” tweeted Mr Bhatti.
The BBC reported Andrew Murrison, Mr Johnson’s trade envoy to Morocco, said he was also stepping down – citing “the last straw”.
The “last straw” he was referring to was Mr Johnson’s not realising former whip Chris Pincher was unsuitable for a job in government after complaints of sexual misconduct were made against him.
“In hindsight, it was the wrong thing to do. I apologise to everyone who’s been badly affected by it,” Mr Johnson said.
Both Mr Sunak and Mr Javid had formerly publicly supported Mr Johnson during months of scandal over his administration’s conduct and a damning report into parties at his Downing Street office and residence that broke strict COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Mr Sunak, who had reportedly clashed with Mr Johnson in private about spending, said: “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.”
Mr Javid said many MPs and the public had lost confidence in Mr Johnson’s ability to govern 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,” Mr Javid said in a letter to the PM.
British journalists were ringing around to hear from sources whether other ministers or staff were expected to walk overnight, while some on Mr Johnson’s teams had publicly pledged their loyalty.
The PA news agency said an ally of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, viewed as a potential leadership candidate, said she was “100 per cent behind the PM”, and the BBC reported its journalists also had information Ms Truss would stay.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted a similar statement.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Home Secretary Priti Patel are not expected to quit.
A source close to Mr Raab told PA he was “loyal” to Mr Johnson while an ally of Ms Patel said “she’s staying”.
All those public promises are not enough to save Mr Johnson.
Nick Watt said a close ally of the PM had told him: “It will all be over by this time tomorrow”.
“No PM can survive the resignation of two senior cabinet ministers like that,” the contact reportedly told Watt.