Rishi Sunak And Sajid Javid Resign From Cabinet As Boris Johnson Struggles To Cling On

Chancellor and health secretary are the first ministers to quit amid Tory unease over the Chris Pincher affair.
Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid.
Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid.
PA News/Getty

Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have resigned from the Cabinet as Boris Johnson struggles to cling on to power.

The resignations came as Johnson was forced into a humiliating apology over his handling of the Chris Pincher row after it emerged he had forgotten about being told of previous allegations of “inappropriate” conduct.

Sunak has said he is quitting as chancellor, writing on Twitter: “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.”

In an incendiary letter, Javid said the British people “expect integrity from their government” but voters now believed Johnson’s administration was neither competent nor “acting in the national interest”.

Pincher quit as deputy chief whip last week following claims that he groped two men at a private members’ club, but Johnson was told about allegations against him as far back as 2019.

The prime minister acknowledged he should have sacked Pincher when he was told about the claims against him when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019, but instead Johnson went on to appoint him to other government roles.

Asked if that was an error, Johnson said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.

“I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”

Cabinet ministers including Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Michael Gove, Therese Coffey and Ben Wallace indicated they would be staying in the government.

However, Bim Afolami quit as Tory vice-chair live on TV, Theo Clarke and Andrew Murrison resigned as trade envoys and ministerial aides Jonathan Gullis, Saqib Bhatti, Nicola Richards and Virginia Crosbie left their roles.

Solicitor general Alex Chalk also quit on Tuesday night.

The prime minister’s authority had already been damaged by a confidence vote which saw 41% of his MPs vote against him.

The loss of crunch by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield in June triggered the resignation of party chairman Oliver Dowden.

But the resignations of Javid – a former leadership contender – and Sunak, viewed as a potential successor to the prime minister, mean Johnson’s position is now perilous.

Sunak, who had been due to make a joint economic speech with Johnson next week, said “it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different”.

“I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth,” he said.

“Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one.”

The prime minister’s fate may ultimately lie with backbench MPs if the Tory 1922 Committee’s rules are changed to allow another confidence vote within 12 months.

Allies of Johnson believe that is unlikely as it would leave any future leader with a “gun to their head”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a general election, saying: “Only a real change of government can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”

In the Commons, the atmosphere among Tory MPs was mutinous with critics lining up to condemn the handling of the situation by Johnson’s No 10 operation.

But ministers loyal to Johnson rallied round him following the Tuesday night resignations.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said he “consistently gets all the big decisions right”, while Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said the mandate won at the 2019 general election “should not be taken away from him because a number of people resign”.


What's Hot