Northern Ireland news

Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson

UK prime minister Boris Johnson faced fresh pressure last night following high-profile cabinet resignations. Picture by Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

BORIS Johnson's future as UK prime minister looked increasingly perilous following two high-profile resignations from his cabinet.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid both submitted letters of resignation as Mr Johnson faced questions over his appointment of MP Chris Pincher to the role of deputy chief whip.

Mr Pincher stepped down last week after being accused of groping two men in a private members' club.

It emerged Mr Johnson knew about an investigation into his behaviour in 2019, despite claims by Number 10 that he was unaware of specific allegations.

The prime minister has since apologised for the appointment and said it was "in hindsight the wrong thing to do".

Amid speculation over further resignations last night, the Conservative Party's vice chair Bim Afolami quit his role during a live interview on TalkTV.

Mr Afolami said he did not believe the PM had "the support of the party, or indeed, the country", while Andrew Murrison also resigned as a trade envoy to Morocco.

Mr Sunak said he was stepping down as Chancellor "with deep sadness".

He wrote: "However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. 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."

Mr Javid said issues facing his party meant they were no longer seen as "competent" or "acting in the national interest" and the prime minister had now lost his confidence.

The resignations represented the biggest crisis of Mr Johnson's premiership, but cabinet ministers including Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and Ben Wallace indicated they would be staying in the government.

Belfast-born Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns also gave his "ongoing and full support" to Mr Johnson, although Jonathan Gullis resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was "dawning on many people across the Conservative party" that Mr Johnson "is not fit to govern the country".

Alliance MP Stephen Farry and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also called on him to resign.


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