UK top ministers Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have jointly resigned from the cabinet amid outrage over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial appointment of the scandalous Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.
Javid, in his resignation letter which he tweeted on Tuesday, made reference to Johnson’s failed leadership as the reason for quitting his post.
“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,” Javid said, adding, “ I regret to say … it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.”
In the meantime, Johnson is under mounting pressure as Pincher faces new allegations of sexual misconduct, which the PM is said to be aware of, despite him feigning ignorance.
Pincher, who was forced to resign last week over sexual misconduct, was at pains to say that he had drunk too much, embarrassed himself, and “caused upset” to people after British media reported that he had sexually assaulted two male guests at a London club.
British media has since reported that he faced several previous allegations of sexual misconduct.
In this regard, last week Johnson's office announced that the British PM was unaware of any specific complaints against Pincher before appointing him.
“In the absence of a formal complaint it was not appropriate to stop an appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations,” Johnson’s spokesman said.
Former Permanent Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office Simon McDonald hit back saying that Johnson’s office was lying and making “inaccurate claims”.
In a letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, McDonald said that shortly after Pincher’s appointment at the Foreign Office, “a group of officials complained to me about Mr. Pincher's behavior ... An investigation upheld the complaint; Mr. Pincher apologized and promised not to repeat the inappropriate behavior.”
McDonald said that Johnson was informed about the outcome of the probe, and also that Pincher was not exonerated.
The opposition Labor party has repeatedly called for Johnson's resignation.
Britons “don't believe a word the prime minister says,” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said, describing Johnson as a “man without shame.”
According to the UK government website, the ministerial code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties.
Deliberately misleading parliament represents a breach of the ministerial code, and ministers who do so are expected to resign.