Sajid Javid quits telling Boris Johnson the Tory party is ‘bigger than any individual’

Health secretary walks out – followed, moments later, by the chancellor Rishi Sunak

Sunak and Javid resign: Johnson says it was a ‘mistake’ to appoint Pincher

Sajid Javid has resigned as health secretary, telling the scandal-hit Boris Johnson the Conservative party is “bigger than any one individual”.

As Tory MPs pleaded with the cabinet to bring down the prime minister, Mr Javid walked out, saying: “I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience.”

The resignation came moments after Mr Johnson ended his silence on the Chris Pincher scandal, apologising for promoting him despite having evidence of his sexual misconduct.

“The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country,” Mr Javid wrote.

Moments later, the chancellor Rishi Sunak also quit – appearing to bring the end of the Johnson premiership within sight

“The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously,” Mr Sunak said, adding: “These standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”

The dual resignations came after the cabinet was captured with pale, gloomy faces at its weekly meeting – prompting speculation that a revolt was near.

Senior Tories had urged Mr Johnson’s top team to pull the plug on his premiership – after No 10 admitted he knew a misconduct complaint was upheld against the man he made deputy chief whip.

“Backbenchers have done all they can. It is up to the cabinet to decide if they will put up, or if they will continue to shut up,” the former health minister Steve Brine told The Independent.

William Wragg, chair of the Commons public administration committee, urged ministers to follow their “common sense of decency”, while John Penrose, who quit as Mr Johnson’s anti-corruption tsar, suggested they would reach a point of not being able to “defend this anymore”.

And Nick Gibb, the respected former schools minister, likened the situation to the crisis in the US where “you worry whether democracy is safe”, as he also urged the cabinet to act.

“We have to make sure that doesn’t happen in this country. We have to get rid of the rot in our political system,” he told BBC Radio 4.

The coordinated resignations followed a devastating intervention by a former head of the Foreign Office – who revealed Mr Johnson was briefed about the complaint against Mr Pincher, in 2019.

Simon McDonald said he was speaking out because the account given by Downing Street – which first claimed the prime minister was unaware of any allegations – was “not true”.

In a letter to the parliamentary standards commissioner, the retired mandarin said the 2019 allegations “were similar to those made about his behaviour at the Carlton Club” – where Mr Pincher has been accused of groping two men.

“Mr Pincher deceived me and others in 2019. He cannot be allowed to use the confidentiality of the process three years ago to pursue his predatory behaviour in other contexts,”

But the prime minister’s spokesman had continued to insist the information about Mr Pincher’s behaviour was no reason to bar him from the job as deputy chief whip, with responsibility for Tory MP’s welfare.

The respected Institute for Government hit out at dishonesty in No 10, calling on Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to step in and saying: “The prime minister’s official spokesman cannot double as a liar.”

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