LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government faced a new crisis Tuesday after two of his most senior Cabinet ministers resigned within minutes of each other.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid quit, saying the government under Johnson’s leadership was no longer competent or “acting in the national interest.”
Johnson, who had been accused by some of his colleagues of lying about the way he dealt with sexual misconduct claims by another lawmaker appointed to a high-ranking position in government, was forced to leave.
Javid, Sunak and Sunak both play a key role in the Cabinet. They are also seen as possible successors to Johnson.
Here’s a look at Sunak and Javid:
Rishi Sunak during a Cabinet Meeting on May 24, 2022.
Daniel Leal/Pool via AP
He resignation letter, Sunak told Johnson “it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.”
“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,” he wrote.
Sunak was, until recently, widely regarded as the party’s brightest rising star, the best-known of potential leadership contenders—and the bookies’ favorite to succeed Johnson.
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Sunak, who is 42 years old, came into prominence in 2020 when he was appointed treasury head. This position required him to manage the country’s worst ever economic slump due to the pandemic. His policies were generally viewed positively, as he spent billions on emergency spending to support workers and businesses.
But “partygate” changed those fortunes. He was also fined by the police for participating in a Downing Street lockdown party on June 2020. He has also come under heavy criticism for being slow to respond to Britain’s severe cost-of-living crisis.
Sunak faced additional pressure when it was revealed that Akshata, his wife, had avoided U.K. income taxes and that Sunak, a former investment banker, kept his U.S. greencard while serving in the government.
Sunak, whose parents were Indian immigrants from East Africa was born in the U.K. and went to Oxford.
Many see his past experience at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, and as a debt because he appears out of touch and inept with the ordinary voter.
Sajid Javid is expected to arrive at a Cabinet meeting in May 2022.
Oli Scarff/Pool Photo via AP
In his statement, Javid said he could “no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this government.”
Javid, 52, has been health secretary since June 2021, leading Britain’s COVID-19 response.
Prior to that, he was the treasury chief. He resigned early 2020 following a dispute with Johnson about his decision to fire his advisors.
Johnson brought Johnson back in to manage the coronavirus response, proving his expertise.
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Javid is a father to four children and was elected for the first time in 2010. He has served in a variety of government positions, including as home secretary, and headed departments for culture, housing, and business.
Johnson was Johnson’s opponent in the 2019 Conservative leadership elections. He defeated him in round four.
The son of Pakistani immigrants, Javid has billed himself as a common-man alternative to his private school-educated rivals—although he had a lucrative career in investment banking before entering politics.
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