A political quake shakes Westminster: Within a few minutes, two British ministers hand in their resignations. In their reasoning, they attack Prime Minister Johnson directly. Can the scandal-ridden prime minister hold out?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting more than ever for his political survival after the resignation of two key ministers. Accompanied by sharp criticism of the head of government, Health Minister Sajid Javid and only minutes later Finance Minister Rishi Sunak resigned from their offices on Tuesday. Both primarily targeted the 58-year-old’s leadership style. This plunged the country into a severe government crisis.

Despite all the criticism, the prime minister had not initiated a change of course, Javid emphasized in his resignation letter published in the evening. “It is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership.” Sunak wrote that his approach and Johnson’s were “too different”. Several Conservative MPs praised the politicians for their stance.

Sentiment within the Conservative Party is devastated

Numerous other cabinet members, such as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Dominic Raab or Foreign Minister Liz Truss, immediately assured the Prime Minister of their support. In addition, Johnson is considered a stand-up man and has survived several scandals. But sentiment within his Conservative Party is devastated. The prime minister must resign, a cabinet member told Sky News.

The opposition rejoiced. “After all the filth, the scandals and the failures, it is clear that this government is collapsing,” said Labor Party leader Keir Starmer. The opposition leader called on other cabinet members to resign as a sign against the “pathological liar” Johnson. That evening it was announced that Johnson’s chief of staff and close confidant Steve Barclay would become the new health minister.

The direct cause of the London political quake is Johnson’s conduct in the recent scandal of sexual harassment by a leading faction member of his Tory party. The fact that the Prime Minister apologized shortly before the resignations on the BBC and admitted that the appointment of MP Chris Pincher to the so-called Vice-Whip was a mistake did not change anything about the resignations – or was even the last drop for the two ministers.

Government overtaken by development

The Whips – literally whips in German – are intended to ensure faction discipline. Pincher resigned last week after media reports that he had groped two men while he was very drunk.

The government was overwhelmed by the development. The reaction was as so often with Johnson. First, the prime minister suggested that Pincher’s resignation would close the case. When protests grew louder, the Tory faction suspended the MP anyway. Finally, the media reported older, similar allegations that Johnson knew about. His spokesman initially denied this – only to admit on Tuesday that the prime minister had already been informed of allegations against his conservative party friend in 2019. He just forgot about that.

Health Minister Javid has now written that he has lost confidence in the head of government. Under Johnson’s leadership, the Tories would not be seen as value-led nor would they serve the national interest. Even after the party-internal vote of no confidence, which Johnson recently narrowly won, the prime minister did not initiate a change of course. Finance Minister Sunak stressed that he had always been loyal to Johnson. “But the public rightly expects the government to act correctly, competently and seriously.” Former Brexit Minister David Frost, who is said to have ambitions for Johnson’s office, also called for the prime minister to be overthrown.

Boris Johnson grapples with historic crisis

The government crisis comes at the wrong time. Great Britain is struggling with a historic crisis in view of the immensely increased cost of living. Inflation is at its highest level in around 40 years. This Wednesday, the government is cutting social security for millions of people on lower incomes. Johnson hoped for a liberation.

In addition, the prime minister had only just survived a scandal that many observers had already thought he was at the end of: the “Partygate” affair about illegal lockdown celebrations in Downing Street. The prime minister personally had to pay a fine for attending one of the parties. Contrary to the expectations of critics within the party, he remained in office. According to experts, his clear support for Ukraine in the war against Russia also helped him. According to the party rules, there must not be another vote for a year.

Still, Johnson could be forced out of office following the resignations of Sunak and Javid. This Wednesday it’s showtime! According to the plan, Johnson has to face a liaison committee, a parliamentary committee. The survey is traditionally a highlight of the parliamentary year. The members often outbid each other with uncomfortable questions, they “barbecue” the prime minister. It will be Johnson’s first battle in the next campaign for office.