Two UK cabinet ministers leave Johnson dangling by a thread

Two UK cabinet ministers leave Johnson dangling by a thread
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses his cabinet ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting in Downing Street in London, Britain July 5, 2022. Ian Vogler/Pool via REUTERS

Less than a month ago, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson narrowly survived a vote of no confidence held by his own party. The vote was held in response to a number of reports that showed Johnson, along with a lot of his staff, had thrown parties and celebrations on Downing Street while the British people were on national lockdown because of the pandemic. Even though he survived the vote, there has been a question about how long he could remain in office, considering previous survivors of no-confidence votes didn’t last all that long.

Now, Johnson’s ability to defy political gravity is being put to the test. Two of his most senior cabinet members, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, resigned on Tuesday, saying they’d lost confidence in him. Their resignation was in response to Johnson’s appointment as whip of Tory MP Chris Pincher, who resigned his post after allegations emerged that Pincher had groped two men. Johnson has apologized for the appointment, admitting that he was told about the sexual misconduct complaint in 2019 and made a “bad mistake” by not acting on it.

Now the question is whether or not Johnson can weather this storm or if it’s only a matter of time before he tenders his own resignation.

Key comments:

“The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously,” said Chancellor Sunak in his resignation letter. “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”

“I think it was a mistake and I apologize for it,” Johnson said of Pincher’s promotion to whip, which he had supported. “In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”