LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government took a major blow on Tuesday when two of his most senior ministers resigned due to what they described as a lack of confidence in his leadership.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the announcement to the public via Twitter, with both tweeting out the resignation letters they had sent to Johnson.
“The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously,” Sunak, the nation’s top treasury official, wrote. “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 his letter to Johnson, Javid wrote he could no longer continue his position “in good conscience.”
“We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest,” the health secretary wrote. “Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither.”
The resignations follow a string of scandals to hit both Johnson and the Conservative Party. On Tuesday, the prime minister apologized for appointing Chris Pincher to a top parliamentary post despite being aware that Pincher had been accused of inappropriate behavior in 2019.
Pincher, who resigned from the post last week after he was accused of sexually assaulting two men at a Conservative Party club, had complaints of a similar nature made about him in 2019 by a “group of individuals.”
Johnson’s spokesman told reporters the day Pincher resigned that the prime minister had not been aware of “any specific allegations.” The spokesman on Tuesday suggested that Johnson had forgotten he had been briefed about the accusations in 2019.
The week before, an article in a leading British newspaper said that when Johnson was foreign secretary in 2018 he tried to appoint his then-mistress Carrie Symonds as his chief of staff with a salary equivalent to $122,000. A spokeswoman for Symonds, who married Johnson in 2021 and now uses his last name, said the claims were “totally untrue” and the article making the claim vanished from the internet.
Last month, Johnson survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament that would have forced him from office had it been successful. The vote came amid fierce Conservative infighting stemming from a series of scandals that have hobbled Johnson, most notably revelations that he had attended parties in defiance of his own government’s COVID lockdown rules.