‘Saves a reshuffle!’ PM’s allies slam Sunak after Cabinet chaos puts Boris on the brink

Nadhim Zahawi made Chancellor after Rishi Sunak resigns

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Boris Johnson has been hit by a raft of resignations after it emerged the Prime Minister appointed Tamworth MP Chris Pincher to a key welfare role in Government despite being aware of specific allegations of sexual assault made against him. Downing Street claimed the Prime Minister was unaware of allegations in a briefing last Friday but eventually conceded Mr Johnson forgot about the allegations after ex-Foreign Office permanent under-secretary Lord Simon McDonald described Number 10’s earlier claim as “inaccurate”. Addressing the Pincher debacle, Mr Johnson said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it, I think in hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.”

Rishi Sunak led the ministerial charge against the Prime Minister as the pair cited competency in their resignation letters.

The ex-Chancellor said: “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.”

Mr Sunak’s resignation came just minutes after the former Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I served you loyally and as a friend, but we all serve the country first.

“When made to choose between those two loyalties there can only be one answer.”

Despite being dealt major blows by two senior figures in his Cabinet, Mr Johnson’s allies have railed against the Chancellor.

When asked if the resignations marked the beginning of the end for the Prime Minister, a supporter of Mr Johnson told Express.co.uk: “No, [this] saves a reshuffle.

“Sunak should have gone anyway. Lots of support [for Johnson] still.”

A Boris-backing MP echoed the call to move on and appoint a new occupant to Number 11.

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They said: “I think Boris can survive this with a fresh and imaginative Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

A Cabinet Minister has also suggested the Prime Minister can move on from the Pincher scandal by appointing a tax-cutting Chancellor.

They said: “I am sure that is a fair assessment but let’s see if Liz [Truss] is his choice then.”

However, the Cabinet Minister was less convinced when asked if the move could help stabilise Mr Johnson’s premiership.

They said: “It’s hard to know. MPs are funny beasts.”

Stratford-upon-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi was later unveiled as Mr Johnson’s new right-hand man.

Speaking shortly after the ex-Education Secretary was appointed as Chancellor, the Cabinet colleague added: “Nadhim will deliver solid Tory policies, that I am confident about.”

Mr Johnson also appeared defiant after he told a meeting of at least 80 MPs: “I know you’re all avidly in favour of tax cuts and tonight’s events might make that a bit easier to deliver.”

Although allies have taken aim at Mr Sunak, the Prime Minister has thanked the ex-Chancellor for his service.

Writing to the Brexit-backing Richmond MP, the Prime Minister said: “I have enormously valued your advice and deep commitment to public service and will miss working with you in Government.”

Tory rebels, who proudly reject the label and instead describe themselves as the “overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party and the electorate”, are mobilising to bring forward a 1922 confidence vote against Mr Johnson.

Days before the Pincher scandal gripped Number 10, one rebel told Express.co.uk that Mr Johnson could face a challenge after MPs return to Parliament following the summer recess.

However, North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen, a former Johnson ally and leading member of the European Research Group, told Sky News he believes Conservative colleagues will alter 1922 Committee rules to bring forward another confidence vote in the Prime Minister.

Leading Conservative figures have backed Mr Sunak and Mr Javid’s decision to quit Government.

Ex-Brexit Minister Lord David Frost wrote in the Telegraph: “I resigned from the Government on a matter of principle.

“Last night Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak did the same.

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“Other Cabinet Ministers now need to consider whether they are truly happy with the current direction of travel.”

Thirsk & Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake added: “[I am] very sorry to see the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, I am sure very difficult decisions but the right ones.”

Another MP, who previously voiced support for the Prime Minister, told Express.co.uk: “[There is] no coming back from that.

“Rishi and Saj. That is very big. [I] suspect more to come.”

When pushed on whether Mr Johnson would resign, the MP said: “If more resignations come – surely he will just walk?”

Mr Johnson’s never-ending woes come after months of speculation about his future.

Following the release of the much-anticipated Sue Gray report into partygate, Mr Johnson was left wounded after 148 MPs voted against him in last month’s confidence vote.

Even though 211 MPs backed the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson faced another challenge after ex-party chairman Oliver Dowden resigned following a catastrophic double-whammy of by-election defeats in Wakefield and Honiton & Tiverton on June 23.

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