British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a news conference during the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.
Yves Herman | Reuters
LONDON – More than 50 MPs have resigned from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government since Tuesday. Unprecedented rebellion against the leader He continues within his own party.
Several ministers resigned in the early hours of Thursday, including Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Treasury Minister Helen Whatley and Defense Minister Damian Hinds, after several ministers resigned on Wednesday.
A Sky News figure The total number of departures at 9.08 am London time is 55.
The 50th resignation came from George Freeman, junior minister for science, research and innovation, at 7.20am London time. Pensions Minister Guy Opperman resigned soon after.
In a scathing resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Freeman said, “The height of transparency and dishonesty in Parliament (and willingness to ask your ministers to mislead Parliament), your removal of key pillars of the Ministerial Code, your handling of the appointment of a Deputy Chief Whip whose history of sexual abuse allegations is too much.”
“This seriously damages public trust and respect for government, democracy and the rule of law, and the long tradition of this great party, quality, character, conduct, integrity and duty to the country before partisan self-interest,” he added.
Johnson met with the remaining members of his cabinet on Wednesday night, many of whom reportedly urged him to step down. Downing Street declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. The prime minister has so far rejected calls to resign, vowing to “fight on”.
President Nadim Zahavi, who was appointed on Tuesday following the resignation of Rishi Sunak, publicly called on the prime minister to step down on Thursday morning, revealing that he and other cabinet ministers had told Johnson to “exit with dignity”.
“He did not listen, and I am heartbroken that he is now undermining the incredible achievements of this government at this late hour,” Zahavi said in a public letter Thursday morning.
“But the country deserves a government that is not only stable, but acts with integrity. Prime Minister, you know in your heart what is the right thing to do, go now.”
Zahavi, who was promoted on Tuesday, was replaced by new Education Secretary Michelle Donnellan, who later became the 54th to resign.
He told Johnson in a letter: “I see no way for you to continue in office, but without proper means of removing you, the only possible way is to force your hand among those of us in the Cabinet.”
Johnson has been embroiled in various scandals and allegations of misleading the public, but the final straw for many MPs involved Conservative lawmaker Chris Fincher. The former deputy chief whip was suspended last week amid allegations of drunken caning of two men at a private members’ club.
Fincher apologized Tuesday for appointing the deputy chief whip — the party’s most senior role — despite being aware of an investigation into Johnson’s conduct in 2019.
Johnson said he was aware of allegations of misconduct against Fincher before his appointment and repeated changes to the line from No 10, prompting the resignation of two top officials, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, on Tuesday night.
In his resignation speech to parliament on Wednesday, Javid, a former prime minister, said “walking the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months”.
Johnson survived a confidence vote by Conservative MPs last month, but many of those who supported his leadership have now abandoned their support.
Matt Beach, director of the Center for British Politics at the University of Hull, told CNBC on Thursday that the challenge Johnson faces is different because of the resignation of “a large proportion of the government’s wage vote.” The situation is “pretty seismic”.
This is a developing story and will be updated soon.