UK finance minister Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid sensationally quit the UK government on Tuesday in a double blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The resignations appeared to be a coordinated move — and threw Johnson’s future into doubt.
Johnson has has sparked anger in his Conservative Party over his handling of the latest Tory sleaze scandal.
Sunak said in a letter to the Johnson that “we cannot continue like this,” while Javid told the Prime Minister that he has lost confidence in him.
Both men published their resignation letters on Twitter.
“The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously,” Sunak wrote.
“I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
A number of junior government members also quit.
The resignations of two senior UK ministers came as Johnson was acknowledging that it was a “mistake” to promote Chris Pincher in February — two years after being told of a complaint against the Tory MP.
Pincher quit as a whip last week when the Sun newspaper alleged he had groped two men.
“I think it was a mistake and I apologize for it,” Johnson said of the Pincher promotion.
“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.”
The departures came a few hours after the UK’s central bank, The Bank of England, warned that the economic prospects for the UK and the world have “darkened” since the start of the year and told banks to ramp up capital buffers to ensure they could weather the storm.
“The global economic outlook has deteriorated markedly. Global financial conditions as a whole have tightened significantly,” Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey told a news conference after the BoE published its half-yearly Financial Stability Report (FSR).
Sunak wrote in his letter: “I am sad to be leaving government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion we cannot continue like this …
“It is with deep sadness that I am writing to you to resign from the government…. To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time.
“For me to step down as chancellor while the world is suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision that I have not taken lightly.
“However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.
“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.”
Javid wrote in his letter: “The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country.
“Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values …
“We may not have always been popular but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.
“Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree …
“The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and new direction.
“I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.”
Opposition UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “After all the sleaze, the scandals and the failure, it’s clear that this government is now collapsing.”
Starmer added: “If they [ministers] had a shred of integrity they would have gone months ago. The British public will not be fooled.
“The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won’t fix that. Only a real change of government can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “A house of cards built on lies and deceit comes crashing down.”
Johnson immediately began reshuffling his cabinet.
Nadhim Zahawi MP has been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the universities minister Michelle Donelan MP replacing him as education secretary.
Steve Barclay, a former Treasury minister and currently Johnson’s chief of staff, will replace Javid as health secretary.