Scandal-scarred British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to step down Wednesday as more staffers handed in their resignations, b
Scandal-scarred British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to step down Wednesday as more staffers handed in their resignations, bringing the running total to 18.
Johnson said his government would not fold after the resignations of two of his most senior ministers and a string of more junior officials in protest of his leadership.
“The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when you’ve been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going. And that’s what I’m going to do,” Johnson told lawmakers.
“We are going to get on and deliver our mandate and win another general election,” he added.
Environment minister Jo Churchill became the latest staffer to quit the government after submitting a letter to the British leader on Wednesday morning.
The minister stepped down minutes after Johnson apologized for mishandling sexual misconduct allegations against a member of his government.
“Recent events have shown integrity, competence, and judgement are all essential to the role of Prime Minister, while a jocular self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations,” she wrote in her resignation letter.
“Our beloved country is facing an uncertain future and strong headwinds. A clear, selfless vision is needed. The country and party deserve better and so with a heavy heart I have decided to resign.”
Despite the influx of resignations from both senior and junior staffers, Johnson vowed to “keep going” with the job as British leader.
He told lawmakers the economy was facing tough times and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine represented the worst war in Europe in 80 years.
“That is exactly the moment that you’d expect a government to continue with its work, not to walk away, and to get on with its job,” Johnson told Parliament.
Johnson said he would only quit if the government could not carry on.
“Clearly, if there were circumstances in which I felt it was impossible for the government to go on and discharge the mandate that we’ve been given, or if I felt, for instance, that we were being frustrated in our desire to support the Ukrainian people … then I would,” Johnson told Parliament.
Earlier on Wednesday, Johnson tried to reassert his authority by quickly appointing Nadhim Zahawi, a rising star in the Conservative Party, as finance minister after Rishi Sunak stepped down on Tuesday.
“When times are tough … is exactly the moment that you’d expect the government to continue with its work, not to walk away … to get on with our job and to focus on the things that matter to the people of this country,” Johnson told Parliament.
Speaking to Parliament, Sajid Javid, secretary of state for health and social care, called on more senior colleagues to resign, saying it had become increasingly difficult to stay in government.
“Treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months,” Javid told a silent Parliament, while Johnson listened.
He said at some point people had to conclude that enough is enough. “That point is now,” he said.
On Tuesday, Javid said Johnson had lost the faith of both the public and some lawmakers that the government was acting in the “national interest.”
“I regret to say … that 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, which was posted to Twitter.
“I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their government,” added Javid, who said he could not continue “in good conscience” to be part of the government.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak took a shot at Johnson in his own letter posted to Twitter, saying the public expects “government to be conducted properly, competent and seriously.”
“I recognize this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I’m resigning,” Sunak said.
The latest blow to Johnson’s leadership comes just a month after he narrowly survived a no-confidence vote by members of his Conservative Party.
With Post wires