Trouble mounts for Boris Johnson, more ministers quit after Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid | World News

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was clinging to power on Wednesday, gravely wounded by the resignation of ministers who said he was not fit to govern and with a growing number of lawmakers calling for him to go. Johnson`s finance and health secretaries quit on Tuesday, along with several in more junior roles, saying they could no longer stay in government after the latest in a series of scandals blighted his administration.

With mounting calls for Johnson to go, he showed his determination to stay in office by appointing businessman and education minister Nadhim Zahawi as his new finance minister, and filling some of the other vacancies.

Zahawi told reporters he would look at all options to rebuild and grow the struggling economy and tame surging inflation, when asked if he would cut taxes such as corporation tax.

 

11 BRITISH LAWMAKERS HAVE LEFT BORIS JOHNSON’S GOVT WITHIN 24 HOURS

Eleven British lawmakers have left Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s government in less than 24 hours, including finance minister Rishi Sunak, saying the British leader no longer has their confidence and plunging his government into crisis.

Here are those who have stepped down so far:

Wednesday:

Will Quince, minister for children and families and a Member of Parliament (MP) since May 2015

Laura Trott, Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Department of Transport and an MP since December 2019

Robin Walker, minister of state for school standards and an MP since May 2010

Tuesday:

Rishi Sunak, Finance Minister and an MP since May 2015

Sajid Javid, Health Secretary and an MP since May 2010

Bim Afolami, Conservative Party Vice Chair and MP for Hitchin and Harpenden since June 2017

Saqib Bhatti, PPS to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and an MP since December 2019

Jonathan Gullis, PPS to Secretary Of State for Northern Ireland and an MP since December 2019

Nicola Richards, PPS for Department of Transport and an MP since December 2019

Alex Chalk, Solicitor General for England and Wales, and an MP since May 2015

Virginia Crosbie, PPS to the Wales Office and an MP since December 2019

Johnson, a former journalist and London mayor who became the face of Britain`s departure from the European Union, won a landslide election victory in 2019 before taking a combative and often chaotic approach to governing.

His leadership has been mired in scandals and missteps over the last few months, with the prime minister fined by police for breaking COVID-19 lockdown laws and a damning report published about the behaviour of officials at his Downing Street office who breached their own lockdown rules.

There have also been policy U-turns, an ill-fated defence of a lawmaker who broke lobbying rules, and criticism that he has not done enough to tackle a cost-of-living crisis, with many Britons struggling to cope with rising fuel and food prices.

The latest bout of drama at the heart of British power comes as the economy deteriorates rapidly, with some economists warning that the country could tip into recession.

LOST CONFIDENCE

The latest scandal saw Johnson apologising for appointing a lawmaker to a role involved in party welfare and discipline, even after being briefed that the politician had been the subject of complaints about sexual misconduct.

Downing Street`s narrative changed several times over what the prime minister knew of the past behaviour of that politician, who was forced to resign, and when he knew it.

That prompted Rishi Sunak to quit as chancellor of the exchequer – the finance minister – and Sajid Javid to resign as health secretary, while ten others left their junior ministerial or envoy roles.

“It is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too,” Javid said in his resignation letter.

Several of the ministers cited Johnson`s lack of judgement, standards, and inability to tell the truth.

A month ago, Johnson survived a confidence vote of Conservative lawmakers, and party rules mean he cannot face another such challenge for a year. However, some lawmakers are seeking to change those rules, while he is also under investigation by a parliamentary committee over whether he lied to parliament about COVID-19 lockdown breaches.

 

WHO CAN REPLACE BORIS JOHNSON IF HE RESIGNS OR IS OUSTED?

LIZ TRUSS

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary is the darling of the ruling Conservative Party`s grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home. Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, evoking a famous 1986 image of Britain`s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was also captured in such a pose.

The 46-year-old spent the first two years of Johnson`s premiership as international trade secretary, championing Brexit, and last year was appointed as Britain`s lead negotiator with the European Union.

Truss said on Monday Johnson has her “100% backing” and she urged colleagues to support him.

JEREMY HUNT

Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson`s premiership.

Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair the health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government.

Earlier this year, he said his ambition to become prime minister “hasn`t completely vanished”. Hunt said he would vote to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month which Johnson narrowly won.

BEN WALLACE

Defence minister Ben Wallace, 52, has risen in recent months to be the most popular member of the government with Conservative Party members, according to Conservative Home, thanks to his handling of the Ukraine crisis.

A former soldier himself, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992.

He began his political career as a member of Scotland`s devolved assembly in May 1999, before being first elected to the Westminster parliament in 2005. He was security minister from 2016 until taking on his current role three years later, winning plaudits for his department`s role in the evacuation of British nationals and allies from Afghanistan last year, and the sending of weapons to Kyiv during the recent war in Ukraine.

RISHI SUNAK TO BE NEXT BRITISH PM?

Rishi Sunak, who resigned as finance minister on Tuesday saying “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, was until last year the favourite to succeed Johnson.

He was praised for a rescue package for the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, including a jobs retention programme, which prevented mass unemployment, that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion).

But Sunak has faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, his wealthy wife`s non-domiciled tax status and a fine he received, along with Johnson, for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules.

His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favour lower taxes.

SAJID JAVID

Sajid Javid was the first cabinet minister to resign in protest over accusations that Johnson misled the public over what he knew about sexual harassment allegations against a Conservative lawmaker.

A former banker and a champion of free markets, Javid has served in a number of cabinet roles, most recently as health minister. He resigned as Johnson`s finance minister in 2020.

The son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents, he is an admirer of the late Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Javid finished fourth in the 2019 leadership contest to replace former Prime Minister Theresa May.

NADHIM ZAHAWI

Nadhim Zahawi, the newly appointed finance minister impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the fastest rollouts of COVID-19 jabs in the world. Zahawi`s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other Conservative contenders.

He went on to co-found polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. His last job was as education secretary. Zahawi said last week that it would be a “privilege” to be prime minister at some stage.

PENNY MORDAUNT

Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she backed his rival Hunt during the last leadership contest.

Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in now-defunct reality TV diving show.

Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She said voters wanted to see “professionalism and competence” from the government. She had previously expressed loyalty to Johnson.