Department by department: all the government resignations so far in turbulent 48 hours

Which departments have lost ministers in the wake of the Pincher scandal?
Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool/Alamy

By Civil Service World

06 Jul 2022

A wave of ministerial resignations has followed revelations about the prime minister's handling of misconduct allegations against former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher. Here is the department-by-department rundown of those who have departed so far.

Treasury

Rishi Sunak, chancellor

Sunak was the first to announce his resignation, along with health secretary Sajid Javid, on Tuesday evening. He said he could "longer continue in good conscience" as chancellor.

John Glen, economic secretary and city minister

Glen said the recent events surrounding the poor handling of the appointment of Pincher as deputy chief whip and the "poor judgement" Boris Johnson had shown had made it "impossible to square continued service with my conscience".

Helen Whately, exchequer secretary 

"There are only so many times you can apologise and move on," Whately said. "That point has been reached".

Craig Williams, PPS to the chancellor

Williams, who was PPS to the Chancellor, said he had given the PM the benefit of the doubt after the vote of confidence and "focus on rebuilding trust" but that had become "impossible".

Claire Coutinho, PPS

Coutinho said the country needs "a laser-like grip on reforming our public services" but the events of recent weeks and months "are preventing us from doing that".

James Davies, PPS

Davies said it is "increasingly impossible" to defend Johnson "in the face of the damaging allegations and perceptions that exist".

Gareth Davies, PPS

Treasury appointments:

Nadhim Zahawi, former education secretary, has replaced Sunak as chancellor. He has since told Johnson to "go now".

Department of Health and Social Care

Sajid Javid, health secretary

"The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country... We may not always have 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 neither," Javid said of his party under Johnson.

Edward Argar, health minister

"I believe, with regret, that now is the time to consider the future, and the 'big call' of how we face that future with integrity, and in that context I fear that a change is needed for our party to continue to deliver on our shared ambitions for the country," Argar said.

Saqib Bhatti, PPS

"Recent events have undermined trust and standards in public life," Batti wrote.

DHSC appointments:

Steve Barclay, formerly Cabinet Office minister and the PM's chief of staff, has replaced Javid as health secretary

Home Office

Rachel Maclean, safeguarding minister

Maclean said she could no longer make progress on her work improving the "woefully low rate of prosecutions for sexual offences" with Johnson in office, stressing survivors of sexual assault had told her their biggest obstacle was the fear of not being believed or that "the system will cover up for the perpetrator".

Damian Hinds, security minister

Hinds said he had resigned because of the "serious erosion" in standards in public life and "faith in our democracy and public administration".

Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Lee Rowley, minister for business and industry

Rowley co-signed a letter with four colleagues saying the government "cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled".

George Freeman, science minister

"Enough is enough. This can’t go on", Freeman said. "The chaos in No10, the breakdown of Cabinet collective responsibility, the abandonment of the ministerial code, the defence of impropriety amd defiance of parliament are all insults to the Conservatism I believe in and stand for."

Mark Fletcher, PPS

Fletcher described Johnson as “an apologist for someone who committed sexual assault”. He said the PM had suggested Pincher's conduct was the fault of colleagues "who had allowed him to drink so much", which he called "crass and insensitive".

Felicity Buchan, PPS

"The current situation is untenable," Buchan wrote.

Ministry of Justice

Alex Chalk, solicitor general

Chalk said he could not “defend the indefensible” and that "public confidence in the ability of No.10 to uphold the standards of candour expected of a British government has irretrievably broken down”.

Victoria Atkins, minister for prisons and probation and Afghan resettlement

"Values such as integrity, decency, respect and professionalism should matter to us all. I have watched with growing concern that these values have fractured under your leadership," Atkins wrote, citing the Paterson and Partygate scandals as well as No.10's handling of the Pincher affair. She also criticised the "casual mistreatment of minister Will Quince", who was given inaccurate information and tasked with defending the PM's handling of the affair, and thanked the "talented and conscientious" civil servants and prison officers she had worked with.

James Cartlidge, courts minister

Cartlidge said he had felt "duty bound" to remain in his position because of the "very challenging situation facing the criminal courts". But he said it was now "not even remotely possible" that Johnson could "change and reset".

Department for International Trade

Mike Freer, exports and equalities minister (also FCDO and UK Export Finance)

Freer accused the government of  "creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people".

Andrew Murrison, trade envoy to Morocco

Murrison said the "unavoidable implication of Lord McDonald's letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards" – which said No.10 had not told the truth about allegations against Pincher – had been the "last straw" for him.

Theo Clarke, trade envoy to Kenya

Clarke said Johnson had shown a “severe lack of judgement and care” by appointing Pincher as deputy chief whip despite knowing the allegations against him

David Duguid, fisheries envoy and trade envoy to Angola and Zambia

"In light of recent events, I believe the prime minister's position is now untenable," Duguid said.

David Mundell, trade envoy to New Zealand

Mundell said Johnson "has not listened to the counsel of colleagues and stood down voluntarily in the interests of the country".

Peter Gibson, PPS

Gibson cited the government's failure to include trans people in the ban on conversion therapy in his resignation letter, saying this was "immense damage needlessly inflicted". He said was leaving because he no longer believes the current PM "represents all the high standards required of public life".

Jack Brereton

Brereton said he felt the "situation has now become untenable".

Department for Education

Will Quince, children’s minister

Quince said hehad “no choice” to quit after he was asked to state government lines to the media “which have now been found to be inaccurate”. 

Robin Walker, schools minister

Walker said the government's achievements had been "overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity" in recent months

Alex Burghart, apprenticeships and skills minister

Burghart co-signed a letter with four colleagues saying the government "cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled".

Sara Britcliffe, PPS

Britcliffe said it was "time to draw a line" as the "self-inflicted crisis" of the Pincher scandal risked undoing the government's levelling-up achievements.

David Johnston, PPS

Johnston said he "cannot defend what has taken place these past few days – or indeed these past few months".

DfE appointments:

Michelle Donelan replaced Nadhim Zahawi as education secretary. She has since resigned, saying: "Yesterday, I pleaded with you to do the right thing and resign for the sake of our country and our party, both are more important than any one person.

"I see no way that you continue in post, but without a formal mechanism to remove you it seems that the only way this is possible, is for those of us who remain in cabinet to force your hand," she added.

She has been replaced by James Cleverly as education onsecretary.

Department for Work and Pensions

Mims Davies, employment minister

Davies took the opportunity to thank her colleagues in the department as she said the PM had failed to uphold the "highest standards in public life".

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion

Opperman said he had already been upset about rule-breaking at No.10 during the pandemic but had backed the PM and given him "ample opportunity to show real change". However, he said recent events had shown that "government simply cannot function" with Johnson in charge.

James Daly, PPS

"Due to recent events it has become very clear that you are sadly unable to lead our government and deliver on the policies that will change lives for the better and create opportunity for all," Daly said.

Department for Transport

Nicola Richards, PPS

Richards said she could no longer serve under a government where the focus was "skewed by poor judgement that I don't wish to be associated with".

Laura Trott, PPS

Trott said trust in politics had been "lost".

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Jo Churchill, environment minister

"Integrity, competence and judgement are all essential to the role of prime minister, while a jocular self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations," Churchill's resignation letter read.

Rebecca Pow, envirnment minister

Pow said she had waited until Thursday morning to resign partly because she was at home with Covid and "partly because I thought you would do the right thing and step aside for good of the party and the country".

Selaine Saxby, PPS

Saxby said "trust, truth and integrity are vital in our work" and that she had not spoken out sooner so as not to pose a "distraction" from the recent by-elections.

James Sunderland, PPS

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities (sacked)

Gove was sacked by Johnson, with a No.10 source telling the BBC "you can’t have a snake who is not with you on any of the big arguments who then gleefully tells the press the leader has to go”.

Kemi Badenoch, equalities and local government minister (also Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Badenoch praised her "great ministerial colleagues and civil servants in these roles" when announcing her resignation in a joint letter with four other MPs

Stuart Andrew, housing minister

Andrew praised "ministerial colleagues, officials, and civil servants in the department and the wider sector" as he stepped down, calling for "personal integrity".

Neil O'Brien, minister for levelling up, the union and constitution

O'Brien co-signed a letter with four colleagues saying the government "cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled".

Duncan Baker, PPS

"The breakdown in trust from the last six months is abundantly clear. The latest situation to unfold regarding Chris Pincher only compounds those feelings, with many now recognising the situation is clearly unsustainable," Baker wrote.

Jacob Young, PPS

Young said it was because of his loyalty to Johnson that he is now urging him to 2step aside and allow the country to move forward".

Danny Kruger, PPS

Kruger said he was "very sorry indeed to hear Michael Gove has been fired by the PM" and that he had told No.10 that it is Johnson who should be leaving office.

DLUHC appointments:

Greg Clark appointed levelling up, housing and communities secretary.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Julia Lopez, minister for media, data and digital infrastructure

Lopez co-signed a letter with four colleagues saying the government "cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled".

Chris Philp, minister for tech and digital economy

"Public and Parliamentary confidence has clearly gone, and given the importance of integrity in public life, I’m therefore stepping down," Philp said.

Scottish Office

Ruth Edwards, PPS

Edwards said she can n no longer serve in a government “whose leadership has turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual assault in its own ranks".

Northern Ireland Office

Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland secretary 

Lewis said "a decent and responsible government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect" and he "no longer believes those values are being upheld".

Jonathan Gullis, PPS

Gullis said the Conservative Party had become “more focused on dealing with our reputational damage rather than delivering for the people of this country”.

Mark Logan, PPS

Logan said he had made his decision "out of respect" for his constituents, counsellors and public servants, saying: "They deserve more from leadership."

Shailesh Vara replaces Lewis as Northern Ireland secretary

Wales Office

Simon Hart, Welsh secretary

Hart said "colleagues have done their upmost in private and public to help you turn the ship around but it is with sadness that I feel we have passed the point where this is possible".

Virginia Crosbie, PPS

Crosbie said Johnson “cannot be trusted to tell the truth” and that this “can never be a position to inhabit for anyone in public life, let alone a prime minister”.

Wales Office appointments:

Robert Buckland, replaces Hart as Welsh secretary

This list was last updated at 14.04 on 07.07.22

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