By Associated Press
Two of Britain’s most senior Cabinet ministers have quit, a move that could spell the end of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership after months of scandals.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other. Javid said “I can no longer continue in good conscience.”
Read the resignation letters: U.K finance minister and health secretary both resign
Johnson has been hit by allegations he failed to come clean about a lawmaker who was appointed to a senior position despite claims of sexual misconduct.
Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. “
“I recognize this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
Earlier a former top British civil servant said Tuesday that Boris Johnson’s office wasn’t telling the truth about sexual misconduct allegations against a senior member of the prime minister’s government.
Johnson has faced pressure to explain what he knew about previous misconduct allegations against lawmaker Chris Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip Thursday amid complaints that he groped two men at a private club.
The government’s explanation shifted repeatedly over the past five days. Ministers initially said Johnson was not aware of any allegations when he promoted Pincher to the post in February.
On Monday, a spokesman said Johnson knew of sexual misconduct allegations that were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint.”
That account did not sit well with Simon McDonald, the most senior civil servant at the U.K. Foreign Office from 2015 to 2020. In a highly unusual move, he said Tuesday that the prime minister’s office still wasn’t telling the truth.
McDonald said in a letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards that he received complaints about Pincher’s behavior in the summer of 2019, shortly after Pincher became a Foreign Office minister. An investigation upheld the complaint, and Pincher apologized for his actions, McDonald said.
McDonald disputed that Johnson was unaware of the allegations or that the complaints were dismissed because they had been resolved or not made formally.
“The original No. 10 line is not true, and the modification is still not accurate,” McDonald wrote, referring to the prime minister’s Downing Street office. “Mr. Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation.
“There was a ‘formal complaint.’ Allegations were ‘resolved’ only in the sense that the investigation was completed; Mr. Pincher was not exonerated. To characterize the allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ is therefore wrong.”
Hours after McDonald’s comments came out, Johnson’s office changed its story again, saying the prime minister forgot he was told that Pincher was the subject of an official complaint.
The office confirmed Johnson was briefed on the complaint by Foreign Office officials in 2019, a “number of months” after it took place. His office said it took some time to establish the briefing took place.