Two of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior Cabinet colleagues have quit.
Rishi Sunak said he was resigning as Chancellor, shortly after Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s resignation announcement.
Nadhim Zahawi was promoted to be the new Chancellor by Mr Johnson this evening, with Mr Javid replaced as Health Secretary by Steve Barclay, the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
Earlier Mr Sunak wrote on Twitter: “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”.
In a letter to the prime minister, the Health Secretary told Boris Johnson that the British people “rightly expect integrity from their Government”.
Sajid Javid wrote: “The tone you set as leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country.
“Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest.
“Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither.”
In a tweet Mr Javid said: “I have spoken to the Prime Minister to tender my resignation as Secretary of State for Health & Social Care.
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience.”
The resignations come as Mr Johnson denied lying to aides about his knowledge of allegations against Chris Pincher.
No 10 spokespeople and ministers have given a series of differing explanations about what Mr Johnson’s knowledge of the situation had been.
Asked if he lied to them, Mr Johnson said: “No and let me explain what happened. We are talking about a series of appointments over seven years.
“Chris Pincher came into government as deputy chief whip before I became Prime Minister, he was move to the Foreign Office, he then went on to be a minister for housing and we then moved him back to be deputy chief whip.
“About two and a half years ago I got this complaint, it was something that was only raised with me very cursorily but I wish that we had, I in particular, had acted on it and that he had not continued in government because he then went on, I’m afraid, to behave, as far as we can see, according to the allegations that we have, very, very badly.
“I’m sorry for those who have been badly affected by it.”
Mr Johnson said Chris Pincher should have been sacked from the government after the 2019 incident which saw him investigated by the Foreign
Asked if it was an error to appoint Mr Pincher to the Government, the Prime Minister said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.
“I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this Government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”
Speaking to reporters in his Commons office he did not deny joking: “Pincher by name, Pincher by nature”.
He said: “What I can tell you is that, if I look at the background of this and why I regret it so much, is that about three years ago there was a complaint made against Chris Pincher in the Foreign Office, the complaint was cleared up, he apologised.
“It was raised with me, orally, I was briefed on what had happened. If I had my time again I would think back on it and recognise that he wasn’t going to learn a lesson and he wasn’t going to change and I regret that.”
Tory MP Nick Gibb, a critic of the prime minister, called on Cabinet ministers to topple Mr Johnson.
The former schools minister told the BBC PM programme: “I worry whether the public can now trust what ministers are saying on the airwaves.”
Asked if he believed the account from Downing Street on the Chris Pincher controversy, he said: “It stretches credibility.”