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UK FINANCE MINISTER, HEALTH SECRETARY RESIGN IN PROTEST

The United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two shock departures from his government Tuesday, including his finance minister, as civil war erupted in the high command of the ruling Conservative Party.

Rishi Sunak quit as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sajid Javid resigned as health secretary, with both saying they could no longer tolerate the culture of scandal that had stalked Johnson for months.

Their resignations were announced minutes after the Prime Minister apologised for appointing a senior conservative, who quit last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men.

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Days of shifting explanations had followed the resignation of Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher.

Downing Street at first denied Johnson knew of prior allegations against Pincher when appointing him in February.

But by Tuesday, that defence had collapsed after a former top civil servant said Johnson, as foreign minister, was told in 2019 about another incident involving his ally.

The resignations came after Johnson only narrowly survived a vote of no confidence among Conservative MPs a month ago.

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Aides said that other cabinet members including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace – two likely

Contenders for the leadership, continue to back Johnson.

But Sunak’s departure in particular, in the middle of policy differences over a cost-of-living crisis sweeping Britain, is dismal news for Johnson.

In a caustic resignation letter, Sunak said that the public rightly expects the government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.

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The prime minister’s survival in last month’s no-confidence vote gave him the opportunity to show humility, grip and new direction, Javid said.

Johnson has been embroiled in various scandals, including the so-called “Partygate” affair, which saw him receive a police fine for breaking his own coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Downing Street.

The 58-year-old premier still faces a parliamentary probe into whether he lied to MPs over the lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.

Pincher’s departure from the whips’ office — charged with enforcing party discipline and standards — marked yet another allegation of sexual misconduct by Tories in recent months.

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Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned in April after he was caught watching pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons.

That prompted a by-election in his previously safe seat, which the party went on to lose in a historic victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.

Labour, the main opposition party, defeated the Conservatives in another by-election in northern England on the same day, prompted by the conviction of its Tory MP for sexual assault.

The controversies have come with Britain battling the worsening cost-of-living crisis and summer of strikes by various unions over wages and working conditions.

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Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to adapt to Brexit and is risking a possible trade war with the European Union by unilaterally overhauling the special deal it agreed with the bloc for Northern Ireland.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was clear that the UK government is now collapsing.

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