Boris Johnson’s premiership may have reached the point of no return after a wave of sudden and incendiary Cabinet departures shook the Conservative front benches on Tuesday.
The explosive resignations of now former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak and ex-health secretary Sajid Javid, who stepped down amid anger over the prime minister’s handling of misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, hailed he biggest leadership crisis of Mr Johnson’s premiership so far.
It followed a bodged confession by No 10 that, despite intially denying it, he was in fact aware when promoting Mr Pincher to his role as deputy chief whip that a misconduct complaint had been upheld against him.
In his letter of resignation to the prime minister, Mr Sunak said “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”, adding “I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.”
Meanwhile, Mr Javid said the British people “expect integrity from their government” but voters now believed Mr Johnson’s administration was neither competent nor “acting in the national interest”.
And Tuesday’s list of resignations did not end there, with the likes of Javid’s parliamentary private secretary Saqib Bhatti MP and trade envoy to Morocco Andrew Murrison joining its ever-growing ranks.
By the skin of his teeth, Mr Johnson survived a confidence vote last month which saw almost 150 of his own MPs try to force him from the helm of the Conservative party.
In the midst of the ministerial coup, Britain’s papers have now leant their front pages to crys for Mr Johnson to step down.
Here’s what they have to say:
Game over for Boris Johnson – The Times
The Times has called in its leading article for the prime minister to resign, saying that every day he remains “deepens the sense of chaos.”
“For the good of the country, he should go,” it adds.
The newspaper pinned Mr Johnson’s demise on his “persistent lying and flagrant disregard for the codes and conventions that necessarily underpin public life”, which they said were characters flaws that had “dogged his entire career.”
It also called for a renewed vote of confidence in the prime minister should he continue to refuse to remove himself from office.
The prime minister’s time is up – The Guardian
We deserve better than Boris Johnson’s “rudderless administration” to lead us through the cost of living crisis, The Guardian writes.
The newspaper also called on PM’s remaining circle of Cabinet ministers to follow in the footsteps of Mr Sunak and Mr Javid and resign “in the interests of preserving their own self-respect.”
Its lead article concludes: “The prime minister needs to be confronted with the truth: his time is up.”
Lord Frost calls on Johnson to go – The Telegraph
David Frost – who dramatically resigned from government minister last year – has issued a plea for Mr Johnson to stand down from offfice, citing his “refusal to acknowledge the need for change” at a time of geopoltical uncertainty and economic crisis.
“If he hangs on, he risks taking the party and the Government down with him. That’s why it is time for him to go,” Mr Johnson’s former Brexit negotiator wrote in The Telegraph.
He implored the prime minister to give way to a “new team” in government – “one that is able to win the next election convincingly.”
Lord Frost adds: “That is in the Conservative Party’s interest, in Leave voters’ interest, and in the national interest. It needs to happen.”
The newspaper’s associate editor Camillia Tominey, meanwhile, accused Mr Johnson of being trapped in a “time Warp of self-delusion.”
She compared Mr Johnson to “a toddler with his fingers stuck in his ears, screaming: “La, la, la”, while No 10’s handling of the Chris Pincher row sent MPs into a frenzy over the fraught future of the party.
‘Can even Boris the greased piglet wriggle out of this?’ – The Daily Mail
Gone are the days of swaggering support for Mr Johnson from The Daily Mail: