LONDON. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a potentially fatal political blow on Tuesday when two of his most senior ministers resigned in an apparently coordinated uprising against his scandal-stained leadership.
Two ministers – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunakand Health Minister Sajid Javid resigned after Mr Johnson apologized for the latest scandal engulfing his government involving allegations of sexual harassment and excessive drinking by a Conservative MP.
The sudden departures have opened another crack in Mr Johnson at a time when he is already fighting an insurgency among lawmakers in his party who are outraged after months of embarrassing reports of public gatherings in Downing Street that violated the government’s own rules on the coronavirus lockdown.
mr. Johnson quickly announced the replacement of Mr. Sunak and Mr. Javid, signaling that he planned to try to strengthen the government and fight for his job. But by all accounts, the Prime Minister was in more political danger than at any time during his turbulent three-year tenure at Downing Street.
Analysts and some senior conservative lawmakers say the fallout from the resignations could undermine any support for Mr. Trump. Johnson left with the party, and in the hours that followed, Alex Chalk, Solicitor General, and several junior government officials also quit. Even analysts who were reluctant to write a political obituary for the prime minister say he faced a difficult road to avoid being overthrown.
“I don’t see how he’s going to handle it – this time it really feels like the end of the road,” said Tim Bale, professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London. “Javid and Sunak, teaming up, punch a much bigger hole in the closet than if it was one or the other.”
mr. Johnson, a free-thinking journalist-turned-politician, seemed to defy the laws of political gravity, surviving numerous investigations, criminal fines from the police, and vote of no confidence among his Conservative Party legislators just last month, all linked to the parties that took place on Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown.
Since he survived a vote of confidence, he cannot face another within a year unless the party rules are changed. This means that resigning the cabinet may be the only effective way to get him to resign. The high-profile resignations have hurt some of Mr. Johnson’s predecessors, including Margaret Thatcher.
Part of Mr. Johnson’s strength was his cabinet’s united support despite the relentless stream of negative headlines.
Hours after G. Sunak and Mr. Javid resigned, Mr. Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahavi, Minister of Education, who was best known for his vigorous introduction of coronavirus vaccines, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Steve Barclay, his chief of staff in Downing Street, as Minister healthcare.
But shuffling on the fly creates its own problems. mr. Barclay was only hired in February to clean Downing Street after the party scandal. mr. Johnson also has yet to replace Oliver Dowden, the chairman of the Conservative Party, who resigned after two crushing defeats in last month’s parliamentary elections.
Those losses crystallized the fear of many Conservatives that Mr. Johnson has lost his reputation as a champion vote-getter, a reputation he cemented with the party’s landslide victory in 2019 that has helped him weather all sorts of scandals.
However, it was a recent outcry over Mr. Johnson’s promotion of a Conservative MP. Chris Pincherwhich apparently tipped Mr. Sunak and Mr. Javid.
Last week, Mr. Pincher resigned as Deputy Chief Party Whip after he admitted to being drunk at a private club in London where he allegedly groped two men. He was suspended from the party while the allegations were being investigated, but did not resign as an MP.
On Tuesday, Downing Street acknowledged that Mr Johnson was told about previous allegations against Mr Pincher in 2019 – something Mr. Johnson’s office initially denied. In what has become a familiar ritual in British politics, the prime minister has apologized to the BBC for Mr Trump’s promotion. Pinscher.
“Looking back, this is the wrong thing to do. Johnson said, “And I apologize to everyone who has been deeply affected by this.”
If the Prime Minister thought that an act of repentance would be enough to keep restless ministers and legislators in check, he was wrong. mr. Sunak, who served as chancellor in what is traditionally the second-highest position in government, has submitted a sharply critical resignation.
“The public rightly expects government to be carried out properly, competently and seriously,” Sunak wrote. “I understand that this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
mr. Javid, who preceded M. Sunak as Chancellor before being ousted and then appointed by Mr. Johnson as Secretary of Health, wrote: “It is with great regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue to serve in this government. I am instinctively a team player, but the British also rightly expect honesty from their government.”
Both men are major figures in the party, albeit with their own potential leadership aspirations. mr. Sunak’s star has faded in recent months due to questions about the tax status of his wealthy wife in the UK.
One of the reasons cabinet support is important to Mr. Johnson is that it has prevented a major figure from becoming his rival. Whether Mr. Sunak or Mr. Javid will try to take on the role is an open question, as is whether other ambitious cabinet ministers will follow.
On Tuesday evening, it emerged that several senior cabinet ministers remained, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss; Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace; and Michael Gove, former rival of Mr. Johnson, who has a key Cabinet portfolio overseeing the economic policy of “flattening” problem areas.
mr. Johnson successfully defeated the no-confidence vote in large part because he had no obvious successors, but it made his vulnerability abundantly clear: more than 40 percent of his party’s legislators voted to remove him. The crumbling cabinet immediately brings several potential successors onto the scene. And party officials are already debating whether the rules should be changed to call for another vote of confidence sooner than next June.
Outrage over G’s circumstances. Pincher’s appointment – and the fluctuating information about them in Downing Street – is just the latest in a string of scandals involving Mr Wilson. Johnson. Earlier this year, he was fined by police for violating lockdown rules at Downing Street, where members of his staff were found to have held several drunken parties in violation of the pandemic ban.
Questions have also been raised about G. Johnson’s costly renovation of his Downing Street flat, which was originally funded by a Conservative Party donor. The prime minister also strongly defended Conservative MP Owen Paterson for violating lobbying rules, but later reversed course and apologized.
As the latest drama played out Tuesday night, some conservative lawmakers made it clear they didn’t think Mr. Trump should come back. Johnson.
“I voted against Boris Johnson in the recent confidence vote and reiterated my concerns earlier today,” Lawrence Robertson, a veteran Conservative, wrote in a Twitter post. “The resignations of cabinet ministers show that others agree that the problems of recent months have become a distraction from the problems facing the country. The prime minister must now resign.”
Mark Harper, former head whip, also discussed Mr. Sunak and Mr. Javid’s resignation in his own Twitter post. “Honorable decisions made by noble people,” he said. “The Conservative Party still has so much to offer our country. It’s time for a fresh start.”
Julian Knight, another Conservative MP, tweeted that with politicians such as Mr. Javid and Mr. Sunak “enough to say, then I’m afraid the die is cast. It is time for the party to take a new direction.”
Megan Spesiamade a report.