Two Top Uk Government Ministers Resigning Is a Massive Setback for Boris Johnson!
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt a huge and sudden blow on Tuesday when two of his top ministers announced their resignations, saying they could no longer work for a government mired in scandal.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the health secretary, both said they were quitting within minutes of each other on Tuesday night. This threw Johnson’s already troubled administration into more chaos and caused a wave of other junior ministers and officials to quit as well.
Some called on Johnson himself to step down, and there was speculation that if he refused to go, members of his party would launch a formal effort to unseat him – less than a month after the last one failed.
The immediate reason for the resignations was a recent scandal that was not handled well. However, the resignations came after months of trouble, during which Johnson was fined for breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules.
“The public rightly expects the government to be conducted properly, competently, and seriously,” Sunak said in his resignation letter, posted to Twitter. “I recognize this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
“I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this,” Sunak added.
Javid wrote that “it has been an enormous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience.” Javid added that the vote of confidence in the prime minister last month “was a moment for humility, grip, and new direction.”
“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 the hours that followed, other ministers and officials with less important jobs in the government quit and more left their jobs on Wednesday morning. Johnson changed two of his Cabinet ministers late on Tuesday to strengthen his position.
Scandal after Scandal
The latest crisis started because of how Downing Street handled the resignation of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher last week. Pincher quit his job last Thursday after he was accused of groping two guests at a private dinner the night before.
Even though he didn’t directly admit the accusations, Pincher said in a letter to Johnson, “I drank way too much last night and embarrassed myself and others.”
Downing Street had a hard time explaining why Pincher was in the government at all, especially after a wave of rumors about his past behavior came out. Johnson denied that he knew anything specific about the rumors.
On Tuesday, it came out that about three years ago, a complaint was made against Pincher at the Foreign Office and that Johnson was told what happened.
Minutes before Sunak and Javid said they were leaving, Johnson said that putting Pincher in his government “was a mistake.”
“I got this complaint. It was something that was only raised with me very cursory, but I wish that we had acted on it and that he had not continued in government because he then went on, I’m afraid, to behave, as far as we can see — according to the allegations that we have — very, very badly,” Johnson said in a broadcast interview.
UK opposition leader Keir Starmer said it was “clear” that the government was “collapsing.”
“The people in the Tory cabinet have always known who this Prime Minister is. They have always been on his side during this sad story. He got help from them when he broke the law. Having his back when he lied over and over. Supporting him when he made fun of what the British people had done, “In a statement made public after the two resignations, the leader of the Labour Party said.
Johnson has been getting a lot of bad press for his and his government’s actions for months, including parties held in his Downing Street offices that broke the law and got him and others fined.
Johnson has been involved in several other scandals that have hurt his popularity, even though he won by an 80-seat landslide just two and a half years ago. Some of these are that he used donor money in the wrong way to fix up his Downing Street home and that he used MPs to protect a colleague who broke lobbying rules.
Last month, he won a vote of confidence, but more of his lawmakers turned against him than his supporters thought they would: 41% of his parliamentary party did not support him.
But even though he won the vote of confidence, he took another hit at the end of last month when his party lost two parliamentary by-elections on the same night. This led to new questions about his ability to lead.
According to a survey done by Ipsos UK between June 22 and June 29, Johnson’s Conservative Party is at its lowest level in more than ten years. Just 21% of respondents said it is “fit to govern.” This is the lowest number for either the Conservatives or Labour since Ipsos started tracking this metric in 2011.
The chaos in Westminster sent shock waves through the financial markets, causing the British pound to drop to its lowest level against the dollar in more than two years.
Downing Street didn’t think twice about filling the empty positions. Nadhim Zahawi, who was Secretary of State for Education before, was made Chancellor, and Steve Barclay, who was chief of staff at Downing Street, was made Health Secretary. Michelle Donelan took over for Zahawi as Secretary of Education.
After the two Cabinet ministers quit, other, less important people did the same. Bim Afolami, the vice-chair of the Conservative Party, said live on TV that he was leaving the party. Afolami told Tom Newton Dunn on Talk TV, “I just don’t think the Prime Minister has my support, the support of the party, or even the support of the country anymore.”
Alex Chalk, who was the Solicitor General for England and Wales and one of the highest-ranking lawyers in the government, also quit. In his resignation letter, he said that it was time “for fresh leadership.”
Andrew Murrison, who was the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Morocco, also quit. He criticized the “rolling chaos” of the last six months and said Boris Johnson’s “position has become unrecoverable.”
Later on Tuesday, at least half a dozen other low-level government workers also said they were leaving, and quieter on Wednesday morning.
Allies of the Prime Minister insisted he would fight on. But, adding to the sense of chaos, two more ministers resigned just as Zahawi was giving an interview to BBC Radio 4’s Today program, regarded as the most high-profile of morning broadcast shows. As Zahawi responded to being told of the first resignation, the presenter, Nick Robinson, interrupted him to tell him of another.