Tired of repeated scandals, two leading British ministers slammed the door Tuesday evening a few minutes apart, a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is increasingly weakened.
British Health Minister Sajid Javid announced his resignation on Tuesday, explaining that he no longer had confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson after a series of scandals that marred the government.
In his resignation letter posted on Twitter, he says it “is clear to me that the situation is not going to change under your leadership – and therefore you have lost my trust”. British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak also announced his resignation at the same time.
An “error” of naming
The two resignations came as Boris Johnson had just publicly apologized, acknowledging that he had made a “mistake” in appointing Chris Pincher to his government in February, who resigned last week after being accused of touching two men.
Downing Street had initially denied having been made aware of older accusations having targeted this deputy chief “whip”, responsible for the parliamentary discipline of Conservative MPs.
A version discredited by a former senior official, pushing Downing Street to recognize on Tuesday that the Prime Minister had indeed been informed in 2019 of accusations against Chris Pincher, but that he had “forgotten” them by naming him. “I think it was a mistake (to appoint him to government) and I apologize for that,” Boris Johnson said after being once again accused of lying.
scandals upon scandals
The Pincher affair will have been the last straw for Messrs. Javid and Sunak, weary of the scandals that have shaken the government and the Prime Minister’s entourage for months. Boris Johnson was already significantly weakened by the Downing Street party affair despite restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The case earned him a fine and a vote of no confidence from his own side, which he narrowly survived last month.
There have been several sexual cases in Parliament: an unnamed MP suspected of rape was arrested and then released on bail in mid-May, another resigned in April for watching pornography in the House on his mobile phone. and a former MP was sentenced in May to 18 months in prison for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy.
The departure of these two deputies caused partial legislative elections and heavy defeats for the conservatives. The party had already suffered a very poor result in the local elections in May.
These scandals occur in a tense social climate, with inflation at its highest for 40 years, at the origin in particular of a massive strike by railway workers. “The public rightfully expects the government to be conducted competently and seriously” and “this is why I am resigning,” Rishi Sunak wrote in his letter to Boris Johnson.
” The icing on the cake “
For his part, Sajid Javid, 52, who had preceded Rishi Sunak at the Ministry of Finance, judged that the British were entitled to expect “integrity from their government”. “I regret to say however that it is clear to me that this will not be the case under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence,” he wrote to the prime minister.
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. He can let this drag on for a few hours if he wants. But I and a large part of the party are now determined that he is gone before the summer holidays: the sooner the better,” he added. It is “clear that this government is collapsing”, reacted the leader of the Labor opposition Keir Starmer by calling for new general elections.
For his part, Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg described the resignations as “small local difficulties”. Other ministers, including Foreign Minister Liz Truss, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Defense Minister Ben Wallace, continue to support Boris Johnson, sources close to the media have said. The Prime Minister has already appointed a new Minister of Health, Steve Barclay, hitherto in charge of government coordination.