British economy, health ministers resign over disagreements with Johnson
By Enrique Rubio
London, Jul 5 (EFE).- In a stunning development, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday announced their resignations after having lost confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The departure of these two government heavyweights deals what may be a mortal blos to Johnson’s position as premier, besieged as he is by multiple scandals, and means that, if more ministers leave, his government could fall.
Johnson’s government has been hemorrhaging for months, with assorted junior officials leaving, but this latest pair of surprise resignations of two of his most visible Cabinet ministers will be harder to weather than earlier departures.
In an internal vote of no confidence less than a month ago, which Johnson survived, it resulted that 41 percent of his Conservative Party members of Parliament said they had no confidence in his leadership.
The post of Chancellor of the Exchequer is the third-most senior official in the British government and it’s no coincidence that his (or her) office and residence are at No. 11 Downing Street, next door to the premier’s residence.
The resignations unleashed a flood of linked resignations, although key authority figures among the Tories, including former Brexit negotiator David Frost and Conservative Party vice president Bim Afolami, also demanded Johnson’s resignation, and some mid-level officials also resigned from their posts.
However, a small group of officials loyal to the primer minister – made up, among others, of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries – announced that they had no plans to leave the government.
The departures of Sunak and Havid come on another day of controversy for the premier, who just before they resigned had to apologize for having appointed MP Chris Pincher to a government role despite knowing about a complaint against him for sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that Johnson’s government is “collapsing” after the resignation of the two key ministers.
“(Johnson) is unfit to be Prime Minister. He is not fit to govern the country,” said Starmer, adding that “that is dawning on many people across the Conservative Party, but they have to reflect on (the fact that) they have backed him for months and months and months.”
“The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won’t fix that,” Starmer tweeted, adding that “Only a real change of government can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”
In his resignation letter, Sunak – who oversaw the UK’s economy and finances – said that serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer might be his last “ministerial job,” but for him the most important thing is to fight for good standards of conduct.
“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,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
He said that he had been a “loyal” minister, adding that “I have always tried to compromise in order to deliver the things you want to achieve. On those occasions where I disagreed with you privately, I have supported you publicly.”
However, according to his letter, Johnson was not ready to take “difficult decisions” on the economy and that “In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.”
Thus, he said, he had made the “difficult” decision to resign.
Meanwhile, Javid, in his own resignation letter, said that “it is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this Government.”
“I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government,” he wrote, saying that he had come to the conclusion that the problems facing the governing Conservative Party cannot be resolved under Johnson’s leadership.
“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,” Javid wrote.