British Prime Minister Boris Johnson struggled for political survival on Tuesday after Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and another senior minister abruptly resigned over the latest scandal that has ravaged his government.
Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid within minutes sent Johnson resignation letters, both targeting his ability to run an administration that adheres to standards.
Signaling his intention to remain in power for as long as possible, Johnson was quick to appoint former businessman and current education minister Nadhim Zahawi as his new finance minister. Steve Barclay, who was appointed in February to enforce discipline in Johnson’s government, has been moved to the healthcare portfolio.
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The resignations came as Johnson apologized for appointing a lawmaker to a role linked to pastoral care for his party, even after being informed that the politician had been the subject of sexual misconduct complaints.
So far, they are the only two ministers in the prime minister’s top cabinet team to resign, while other senior figures have voiced their support for Johnson. Secretary of State Liz Truss, who is believed to be the leading candidate to succeed him, said she was “100% behind the Prime Minister”.
Four other lawmakers left lower-level government posts, while a trade commissioner resigned and a Conservative Party vice-chairman resigned from live television.
UK MP for Cheltenham Alex Chalk has resigned as Attorney-General for England and Wales in protest at Johnson’s leadership.
He released his letter of resignation in a tweet after four other lawmakers resigned from junior government positions.
The resignations come after months of scandal and missteps, with Johnson having so far weathered criticism over a scathing report of parties at his Downing Street residence and office, which broke the strict COVID-19 lockdowns and left him by police with a fined.
There have been other policy U-turns, an ill-fated defense of another lawmaker for breaking lobbying rules and he’s also come under fire for not doing enough to deal with a cost-of-living crisis that is plaguing many Brits as the rising are struggling fuel and food prices.
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Economists say the country is now heading for a sharp slowdown or possibly recession. Both Sunak and Javid had previously publicly supported Johnson, but their letters said enough was enough.
Sunak, who had reportedly quarreled privately with the prime minister over spending, said: “For me, stepping down as Chancellor of the Exchequer while the world suffers the economic fallout from the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision I have made didn’t make it easy for me.”
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“The public has a right to expect the government to be run properly, competently and reputably,” he added. “I realize this could be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that’s why I’m resigning.”
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Sunak had received praise for his calm response to the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but was badly damaged by revelations that his wife had avoided paying some taxes in the UK.
Javid said many lawmakers and the public had lost confidence in Johnson’s ability to govern in the national interest.
“It is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my trust as well,” he said in his letter.
The pound fell after Sunak’s resignation, but economists said a resignation of Johnson could bring needed stability and boost sterling and markets in the medium term.
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The resignations came just minutes after Johnson issued a televised apology for appointing lawmaker Christopher Pincher to a role linked to chaplaincy in the Conservative Party, his latest public expression of remorse for his mistakes.
“I apologize to everyone who has been severely affected by this,” Johnson told broadcasters. “I just want to be absolutely clear that there is no place in this administration for anyone who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”
Pincher’s resignation last Thursday sparked days of a changing narrative from Downing Street about what the Prime Minister knew about the Deputy Chief Whip’s behavior and when he knew it.
After a former senior official accused Johnson’s office of lying, the prime minister’s spokesman was forced into a quick about-face on Tuesday to say the British leader had been briefed on the case in “some form” but forgot to do so last week would have.
For many in the ruling party, yet another accusation of lying and a declaration of amnesia only increased their frustration with the Johnson administration, which some lawmakers say is paralyzed by scandals.
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Some Conservative lawmakers are trying to renew attempts to oust him just a month after the prime minister survived a vote of confidence, while others earlier appealed to his cabinet ministers to crack down on Johnson.
“He’s done,” said a previously loyal Conservative lawmaker on condition of anonymity. “He shouldn’t prolong the agony. That is disrespectful to his colleagues, his party and his country.”
Another previously loyal lawmaker agreed: “It’s all over. I’d be amazed if he lasts through the summer now.”
But some party veterans said Johnson, who his closest aides said is enjoying a fight, could stay and hope to reset his government again.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer said those who supported Johnson were complicit in how he did his job.
“After all the dirt, the scandals and the failures, it’s clear that this government is now collapsing,” he said.
https://globalnews.ca/news/8969410/boris-johnsons-loses-members/ UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government loses several members as scandal mounts – National