UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to step down after dozens of his ministers and other cabinet members deserted Downing Street. At the time of writing, 15 ministers have abandoned him, with five announcing their resignations in a single joint letter.
The resignations on Tuesday of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid set off a tidal wave of departures from Johnson’s Cabinet.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, the ministers for education, the treasury, housing, justice, business, culture, and five others have all handed in their resignations. Five ministers, including Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch and Industry Minister Lee Rowley, announced their departure in a joint letter to the PM.
Their letter echoed those of Sunak and Javid, ending with a call for Johnson to step aside “for the good of the party and the country.”
Nine Parliamentary private secretaries, as well as two foreign envoys and the Conservative Party’s Vice Chairman for Youth, Bim Afolami, have also announced their departure.
Johnson’s tenure as prime minister has been shaky for some time, and while recent headlines have focused on his role in rallying Western military aid for Ukraine, a number of scandals at home have piled up. With his approval rating hammered by revelations that he hosted numerous lockdown-defying parties at Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic, and with Britons set to face the steepest drop in living standards since the mid-1950s, the Conservative Party was hammered in by-elections last month.
Hours before the resignations began, Downing Street admitted that Johnson had known of multiple complaints about the “predatory behavior” of MP Chris Pincher before appointing him deputy whip earlier this year. Pincher resigned last week after it emerged that he had groped two men at a private members’ club.
However, Johnson remained defiant on Wednesday. Asked in Parliament whether he would resign, the PM said that “the job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going, and that’s what I’m going to do.”