UK cabinet ministers ‘will tell Johnson to quit’

by | Jul 7, 2022

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A delegation of senior cabinet ministers was reportedly gathering at Downing Street to urge UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to quit after a mass of resignations from his government amid renewed criticism of his behaviour.
The hard-right Home Secretary Priti Patel was seen entering the prime minister’s official residence, while new Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi – barely in office for 24 hours – Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Welsh Secretary Simon Hart were waiting for Johnson after his appearance before a parliamentary committee.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove reportedly told Johnson on Wednesday that he should resign, given the growing opposition to him staying in power. The flood of ministers leaving was triggered on Tuesday when Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid quit within minutes of each other.

Johnson’s term in office since being elected in 2019 with a majority of 80 seats has been characterised by a series of scandals such as the “Partygate” affair, for which he became the first prime minister in UK history to have broken the law while in office.

Two investigations found that Johnson attended social gatherings at Downing Street, his official London residence, at a time when such events had been banned during the Covid pandemic.

The latest scandal surrounded the promotion of MP Chris Pincher to deputy chief whip, who last week had to resign after being accused of allegedly groping two men while drunk.

Claims soon emerged that Johnson had been made aware of previous allegations of sexual misconduct by Pincher. Johnson resorted to his default position of outright denial, which eventually collapsed days later when Downing Street admitted he’d been aware.

Adding to the chaos, the prime minister then said he had forgotten the relevant conversations before ultimately making a humiliating public apology.

This was clearly the final straw for Sunak and Javid, along with a host of other ministers, many of whom have been pushed out to front the media and defend their leader.

They were followed on Wednesday morning by the children’s minister Will Quince, who was sent out on media interviews on Monday to state that Johnson had been unaware of previous allegations against Pincher when he appointed him as deputy chief whip.

“With great sadness and regret, I have this morning tendered my resignation to the prime minister after I accepted and repeated assurances on Monday to the media which have now been found to be inaccurate,” Quince said in his resignation letter.

While the recent resignations are relatively junior, they are significant as they come from so-called “payroll” MPs – those expected to toe the party line and show loyalty to Johnson – as opposed to the 148 backbench rebels who called for the PM to go in a recent confidence vote.

If he refuses to resign, Johnson could face another vote of confidence within days if Tory rebels are successful in getting Conservative Party rules changed at a meeting of the backbench 1922 committee later this afternoon. The PM has already survived one ballot, which would leave him protected for a year.

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