Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resign from government in protest at PM

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston reports on Boris Johnson facing the biggest leadership crisis of his premiership after Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor and Sajid Javid resigned as health secretary

Boris Johnson's leadership has been rocked by a string of resignations, led by two of his most senior Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak.

The pair quit within minutes of each other on Tuesday night, citing standards and integrity as their reasoning.

Many believe the resignations of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid - just one month after the PM scraped through a no confidence vote - could prove fatal, and indeed at least ten other Conservatives have followed suit and quit their roles.

Mr Johnson moved quickly on Tuesday night to shore up support. Nadhim Zahawi, formerly the education secretary, was promoted to chancellor and Michelle Donelan, who was the universities minister, has replaced him.

Steve Barclay has stepped into the vacant health secretary role.

Where do tonight's resignations leave Boris Johnson? Robert Peston provides analysis as a senior Tory source reveals the PM may have two weeks or four months left in office

Mr Sunak and Mr Javid told the PM they had lost confidence in him, after months spent by Number 10 fighting to extinguish the flames of repeated scandals, such as Partygate and the recent Chris Pincher revelations.

The pair posted their resignation letters to Twitter within moments of each other but sources have insisted it was not part of a coordinated plot, however, it appears they may have started a domino effect.

Have any other Tories followed Sunak and Javid out of government?

Bim Afolami quit as vice chair of the Tory party shortly after, Jonathan Gullis quit as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to the Northern Ireland secretary and Andrew Murrison stepped down as a government trade envoy.

Saqib Bhatti, the MP for Meriden, said his conscious would "not allow" him to remain a parliamentary private secretary in the health department because "events of the past few months have undermined trust in us all".

Another former PPS, Nicola Richards, said she was resigning from her position in the transport department because the government's "focus is skewed by poor judgement that I don't want to be associated with".

Neither Michelle Donelan nor Nadhim Zahawi gave a comment to the press after leaving No 10 in their new positions. Credit: PA

Ynys Mon MP Virginia Crosbie, formerly a PPS in the Welsh Office said the "final straw" was Mr Johnson's handing of the Pincher controversy.

Theo Clarke also resigned on Tuesday evening, leaving her post as the PM's trade envoy to Kenya. In her resignation letter addressed to Mr Johnson, the Conservative MP for Stafford said that she took "allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously".

Solicitor General Alex Chalk also resigned saying he could no longer defend “the culture and course” set by the PM.

How much of a blow were the more junior resignations to the PM's authority? Anushka Asthana explains

Why did Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resign?

Mr Sunak, the ex-chancellor, told Mr Johnson "the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously, adding that "our approaches are fundamentally too different"."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."

Concluding, he said: "I am sad to be leaving government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this."

Mr Javid said the public had concluded the government is neither popular nor competent and "this situation will not change under your leadership and you have therefore lost my confidence".

In his letter to the PM, the health secretary told Mr Johnson that the British people "rightly expect integrity from their government".

He said the recent vote of confidence was a "moment for humility, grip and new direction".

Mr Javid wrote: "The tone you set as 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. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.

"Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither."

What has led to the resignations?

The resignations come of following months of controversy which the prime minister has struggled to move on from.

The latest controversy surrounds an MP, Chris Pincher, who Mr Johnson appointed as his deputy chief whip, despite being aware of previous allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

He apologised on Tuesday, saying he regretted appointing the MP, but for days ministers and officials had been insisting he was unaware of the allegations.

The Pincher controversy follows a vote of no confidence, which he only just survived just one month ago.

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand looks back at the controversies that have led to the dramatic series of resignations which could prove politically fatal for the PM

Dozens of Backbench MPs agreed they wanted to replace him due to his handling of the Partygate scandal, which resulted in him being fined by police for breaking his own coronavirus laws.

He scraped through, telling his Conservative colleagues there would be a shake up in Number 10 aimed at instilling discipline.

But it appears Mr Javid and Mr Sunak have decided that was not enough to keep them under his employment.

Their resignations come following that of Oliver Dowden as Conservative Party chairman, who quit in protest at two recent by-election defeats.

On Tuesday night Conservative peer Lord Heseltine, a prominent figure in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, told ITV News that supportive cabinet ministers were "clinging like minor limpets".

Lord Heseltine added Boris Johnson was "like a major limpet".

Lord Heseltine tells ITV News Boris is 'clinging like a major limpet to the rock'

Will more Cabinet resignations follow?

Tory former chief whip Mark Harper, a consistent critic of Boris Johnson in recent months, tweeted: "Tonight we have seen leadership from (Rishi Sunak) and (Sajid Javid).

"Honourable decisions made by honourable men. The Conservative Party still has so much to offer to our country. It's time for a fresh start."

Home Secretary Priti Patel is "no way" going to resign, sources have told ITV News and Dominic Raab's team says he is "loyal" to the prime minister.

An ally of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, among a list of potential leadership candidates, said she was "100% behind the PM" and an aide Housing Secretary Michael Gove said he too would remain in post.

A source close to Ben Wallace, another potential successor, said: "The defence secretary is not resigning."

Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, is also staying loyal to the prime minister, a source said.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on more Cabinet ministers to resign and backed a snap general election to give the public a chance to change government.

He said those remaining in Cabinet would be "nodding dogs" if they did not quit, adding that those who have resigned have been "complicit every step of the way as [the prime minister] disgraced his office and let down his country."

"It's clear that this government is now collapsing", Sir Keir said, adding: "The British public will not be fooled. The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won't fix that."

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said "the whole rotten lot" in Boris Johnson's Westminster government should go.

She said: "Feels like end might be nigh for Johnson - not a moment too soon.

"Notable tho that the resigning ministers were only prepared to go when they were lied to - they defended him lying to public.

"The whole rotten lot need to go. And needs the permanent alternative of independence."