UK Finance Minister Sunak resigns in major blow to PM Johnson
UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak resigned on Tuesday, along with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson found himself engulfed in yet another scandal over the behaviour of Conservative MPs.
Multi-millionaire Sunak, who himself has been under scrutiny in recent weeks, said the public "rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously" after Johnson denied he was aware of allegations of improper behaviour against MP Chris Pincher when he was appointed as deputy chief whip.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi was moved to the Treasury to take over as Sunak's replacement. The universities minister Michelle Donelan was promoted as Zahawi's successor, while Steve Barclay, a former Treasury minister, Brexit minister and currently Johnson’s chief of staff, will replace Javid as Health Secretary.
"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," Sunak wrote in his resignation letter to Johnson.
Pincher resigned his post last week after he was accused of groping two men in a private members club, but it emerged on Monday he had already been investigated for his conduct three years ago.
Downing Street officials for days denied that the prime minister was previously told about an investigation into the disgraced MP's inappropriate behaviour in 2019, before on Tuesday finally admitting the reverse was true, leaving Johnson to issue an apology.
Sunak said it would only be possible to deliver a low-tax, high-growth economy and world-class public services if ministers were prepared to “take difficult decisions”.
However, he added that it had become clear in preparation for a proposed joint speech on the economy next week that he and Johnson had fundamentally different approaches.
“I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true,” he wrote. “They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one.”
Javid, a former finance minister and home secretary, criticised Johnson’s conduct following a vote of no confidence in his position last month in which 148 MPs wanted him removed. He wrote that “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.”