Boris Johnson has to endure more resignations in one day than any prime minister in history

Boris Johnson

Almost 40 ministers and aides have left since Tuesday night (Image: PA/Reuters/AFP)

Boris Johnson has suffered more resignations in a single day than any prime minister in history after the Chris Pincher scandal sparked a brutal mass exodus that has been likened to “rats fleeing a sinking ship”.

Nearly 40 ministers and staff have left since Tuesday night, including two cabinet ministers, 15 ministers, 17 parliamentary private secretaries, three trade envoys and a deputy leader.

The internet turned to humor to ease some of the tension surrounding the government’s “slow collapse”.

But it’s no laughing matter for Mr Johnson, whose list of firsts includes being the only sitting prime minister to ever break the law.

According to data from the Institute for Government, more ministers have resigned from Boris Johnson’s post as prime minister in one day than in the entire tenure of his predecessors David Cameron and Gordon Brown.

Thirteen ministers resigned during Gordon Brown’s nearly three-year tenure, and the same number resigned during Cameron’s six-year tenure.

The collapse of the government began last night with the sensational resignation of Rishi Sunak as chancellor and Sajid Javid as health minister.

The Chris Pincher row was the final straw for the allies who had stood by him through Partygate and other seedy scandals.

Who has left the government so far?

  • Sajid Javid – Minister of Health
  • Rishi Sunak – Chancellor
  • Will Quince – Minister for Children and Families
  • Alex Chalk – Attorney General
  • Bim Afolami – Vice Chairman of the Tory
  • Laura Trott – PPS to the Department of Transport
  • Andrew Murrison – Trade Envoy for Morocco
  • Jonathan Gullis – PPS to the Northern Ireland Secretary
  • Saqib Bhatti – PPS to the Minister of Health
  • Nicola Richards – PPS for the Department of Transport
  • Virginia Crosbie – PPS to Welsh Office
  • Theo Clarke – Trade Ambassador for Kenya
  • Robin Walker – School Minister
  • John Glen – Business Secretary to the Treasury
  • Felicity Buchan – PPS to the Economics Department
  • Victoria Atkins – Secretary of Prisons
  • Jo Churchill – Secretary of Health
  • Stuart Andrew – Secretary for Housing
  • Claire Coutinho – PPS to Treasury
  • Selaine Saxby – PPS to the Treasury
  • David Johnston – PPS to the Department of Education
  • Kemi Badenoch – Minister for Equality and Local Government
  • Julia Lopez – Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure
  • Lee Rowley – Secretary of Industry
  • Neil O’Brien – Rising Minister
  • Alex Burghart – Skills Minister
  • Mims Davies – Secretary of Labor
  • Duncan Baker – PPS for the Department of Advancement, Housing and Communities
  • Craig Williams – PPS to Treasury Department
  • Rachel Maclean – Secretary of the Home Office
  • Mark Logan – PPS to the Northern Ireland Office
  • Mike Freer – Secretary of State for Exports and Equality
  • Mark Fletcher – PPS to the Department of Economics
  • Sara Britcliffe – PPS to the Department of Education
  • Ruth Edwards – PPS to Scottish Office
  • Peter Gibson – PPS to the Department for International Trade
  • David Duiguid – Trade Ambassador for Angola and Zambia
  • James Sunderland – PPS at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Jacob Young – PPS at the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities
  • James Daly – PPS at the Department for Works and Pensions
  • David Mundell, Trade Ambassador for New Zealand
  • Danny Kruger – PPS in the Department for Leveling Up, Housing & Communities
  • Simon Hart – Welsh Secretary
  • Edward Argar – Secretary of Health

Mr Pincher resigned as Deputy Chief Whip last week after allegedly assaulting two men while drunk at London’s Carlton Club.

No10 initially said the PM had no prior knowledge of concerns about his behavior – but a former official cast doubt on that line in a bombshell statement saying the PM had been briefed on an investigation into Mr Pincher in 2019.

The Government later admitted Boris Johnson was personally informed of the allegations – but claimed he had forgotten them.

A humiliating apology failed to prevent the departure of Sunak and Javid, two potential leadership rivals. Both wrote inflammatory letters of resignation.

Today they were followed out the door by 14 junior ministers, including five who resigned in one fell swoop.

Undated UK Parliament handout photos of 35 MPs who have resigned from government over the past 24 hours over Boris Johnson's leadership. (front row left to right) Sajid Javid, Rishi Sunak, Nicola Richards, Alex Chalk, Virginia Crosbie, Bim Afolami and Claire Coutinho. (second row left to right) Laura Trott, Jonathan Gullis, Will Quince, Theo Clarke, John Glen, Robin Walker and Stuart Andrew. (third row left to right) Victoria Atkins, Felicity Buchan, Saqib Bhatti, Jo Churchill, David Johnston, Andrew Murrison and Selaine Saxby. (fourth row left to right) Lee Rowley, Julia Lopez, Kemi Badenoch, Alex Burghart, Mims Davies, Neil O'Brien and Duncan Baker (fifth row left to right) Sara Britcliffe, Ruth Edwards, Mark Fletcher, Peter Gibson, Mark Logan, Rachel Maclean and Craig Williams. Issue date: Wednesday July 6, 2022. PA Photo. Boris Johnson has been trying to save his position as Prime Minister after two cabinet resignations and a series of government departures threatened to force him out of No. 10. Rishi Sunak resigned as chancellor on Tuesday alongside Sajid Javid, who is stepping down as health secretary, which came just as the prime minister was forced to make a humiliating apology to address the row over scandal-ridden former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher. See PA story POLITICS Johnson. Photo credit should read: UK Parliament/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Boris Johnson has suffered more resignations in a single day than any other prime minister in history (Image: PA)

Kemi Badenoch, Neil O’Brien, Alex Burghart, Lee Rowley and Julia Lopez signed a joint letter saying they no longer had faith in the Prime Minister and calling for his resignation.

Labor Secretary Mims Davies, Safety Secretary Rachel Maclean and Equal Opportunities Secretary Mike Freer announced their departure shortly thereafter.

In their letters of resignation:

  • Former Minister for Children and Families Mr Quince said he could not accept defending the Prime Minister on TV with inaccurate information about the Chris Pincher row.
  • Former Justice Secretary Ms Atkins told Mr Johnson: “I can no longer pirouette around our broken values. We can and must do better.”
  • Ms Churchill resigned as Environment Secretary, saying: “Recent events have shown that integrity, competence and judgment are essential to the Prime Minister’s role, while a joking, self-interested approach inevitably has its limitations.”
  • Kemi Badenoch, Neil O’Brien, Alex Burghart, Lee Rowley and Julia Lopez signed a joint letter calling for the PM’s resignation and saying it was “clear that the government cannot function given the issues that have come to light”. .
  • Mims Davies said that over the past few months I have “become increasingly concerned about your position as Prime Minister, the people around you, the direction of our party and what you stand for”.
  • Rachel MacLean said she doesn’t think she can improve the “woefully low rate” of prosecutions for sex offenses with the country’s prime minister.
  • Mr Freer said he was quitting as equality secretary, complaining about “creating an atmosphere of hostility towards LGBT+ people” and adding: “I can no longer defend policies with which I fundamentally disagree”.

Mr Johnson has vowed to keep fighting, but there is a very real possibility that his government could be over within days.

A number of Boris Johnson’s own cabinet ministers are reportedly set to gather to tell the prime minister his time is up in what could be the final blow to his tenure as prime minister.

The group is believed to include his brand new chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, who replaced Rishi Sunak in the top position hours ago.

New Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, as well as Chief Whip and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Home Secretary Priti Patel are also involved, according to the BBC and Sky News.

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It is understood they will give Mr Johnson the “final ultimatum” and say “you go or we do”.

A separate plot to oust Mr Johnson from rebel backbenchers also gained momentum on Wednesday night.

Tory backbench 1922 executive committee elections take place on Monday, paving the way for a rule change that could allow for a second vote of no confidence (VONC).

Mr Johnson narrowly survived one of those last month and under current party rules will not face another until July next year.

In the last vote, 41.2% of his Conservative MPs voted against him.

But a number of MPs who said they voted for the prime minister at the time have since said they would vote differently if the vote were held again.

Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, who lost the support of a smaller percentage of MPs than Boris Johnson in their no-confidence votes in 1990 and 2019, held power for less than six months.

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Justin Scacco

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