Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid both made announcements Tuesday night in letters posted to Twitter within minutes.
The most immediate controversy Johnson faces is Downing Street’s handling of the resignation of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, who resigned from his post last Thursday amid allegations that he groped two guests at a private dinner the night before . Though he didn’t directly admit to the allegations, Pincher said in a letter to Johnson that “I drank way too much last night” and “embarrassed myself and other people.”
“The public rightly expects the government to be properly, competently and reputably run,” Sunak said in his resignation letter. “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.”
“In preparation for our planned joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different,” Sunak added in the letter. “I am sad to be leaving the government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot go on like this.”
Javid wrote, “It has been a tremendous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience.” Javid added that last month’s vote of confidence in the prime minister was “a moment of humility, of… Griffs and the reorientation was”.
“I regret to say that I realize this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have lost my confidence as a result,” Javid wrote.
Downing Street has struggled to explain why Pincher was in government in the first place amid a spate of revelations about his past alleged conduct.
When these reports surfaced, Downing Street initially denied the Prime Minister knew anything specific about them. Johnson’s team then said they were aware of the historic allegations, but they had been “resolved.” When it emerged that one of the previously unreported allegations against Pincher had been confirmed, Johnson’s spokesman explained that “resolved” could mean it had been confirmed.
Then, on Tuesday morning, Simon McDonald, the former top State Department official, revealed that Johnson had been personally briefed on the outcome of an investigation into Pincher’s conduct.
Minutes before Sunak and Javid announced their resignations, Johnson acknowledged that appointing Pincher to his government was “a mistake”.
For months, Johnson has faced a barrage of criticism of his conduct and that of his government, including illegal lockdown-breaking parties at his Downing Street offices, for which he and others have been fined.
He survived a confidence vote last month, but the final number of his MPs rebelling against him was more than his supporters expected: 41% of his own parliamentary group refused to support him.
This is an evolving story.