UK Ministers Javid, Sunak Step Down in Protest Over Boris Johnson's Leadership Amid Pincher Row
17:11 GMT 05.07.2022 (Updated: 18:46 GMT 05.07.2022)
The long-time Johnson allies are the latest Tories to express lack of confidence in the prime minister's leadership in the face of numerous scandals, the most recent of which revolves around alleged attempts to cover up predatory sexual behavior by the now former Conservative deputy whip.
Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak have resigned from the government in protest of Boris Johnson's leadership.
In tweets announcing their decisions, Javid, who served as secretary of state for health, and Sunak, who served as chancellor of the exchequer (Britain's equivalent to the US secretary of the Treasury), attached the letters of resignation which they had sent to Johnson earlier in the day.
"The tone you set as a leader, and the values represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country. Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest. Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree," Javid wrote in his letter, adding that it had become "clear" to him that "this situation will not change under [Mr. Johnson's] leadership."
"To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time. 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. 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," Sunak wrote in his own letter.
Both men emphasized their personal "loyalty" to Johnson, with Javid also referring to Johnson as his "friend," but emphasizing that "we all serve the country first."
Prime Minister Johnson did not immediately comment on the resignations, but admitted earlier in the day that his decision to appoint Chris Pincher, a Tory politician accused of serial predatory sexual behavior, as deputy whip, was a mistake. "The [2017 complaint against Pincher] was cleared up, he apologized. It was raised with me, I was briefed on what had happened and if I had my time again I'd think back on it and I'd realize he wasn't going to learn a lesson and he wasn't going to change," Johnson said.
"In hindsight, it was the wrong thing to do and I apologize to everyone who has been badly affected by it," he added.
Pincher stepped down as deputy whip last week, and was then suspended as a Conservative Party MP amid allegations of groping two men at a London Conservative private members' club in late June. On Sunday, six additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Pincher spanning a decade came to light. The scandal was exacerbated after former Johnson chief advisor Dominic Cummings alleged
that the prime minister knew about the deputy whip's handsy nature, and even used to joke about him being "Pincher by name, pincher by nature."
The Pincher scandal, and Johnson's alleged attempts to "sweep [the] sexual misconduct under the carpet,"
have sparked renewed speculation that the prime minister could face a challenge to his leadership "before Christmas" after narrowly surviving last month's vote of no confidence over partygate. That scandal included allegations that Johnson acted to try to cover up a series of secret drinks parties for government officials held in 2020, while the rest of the country was placed under harsh COVID lockdowns.