As Sunak and Javid quit cabinet, is it all over for Boris Johnson?

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

With Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid gone from the cabinet, it could all be over for Boris Johnson – although quite how long it will take his enemies to finish him off is not at all clear and his defenestration does not look immediate.

The two byelection defeats almost two weeks ago prompted calls for cabinet ministers to mount a coup against the prime minister, and in the wake of the Chris Pincher scandal it finally seems to be happening.

We have not had confirmation yet, but it is impossible to believe that the resignations of Javid and Sunak were not coordinated. Perhaps there are more to come.

Sunak’s resignation is the most serious of the two. Since the spring statement, the chancellor has not been the obvious heir apparent he once was. But he is still a powerful figure in the party. The resignation of Nigel Lawson helped bring down Margaret Thatcher, although it took just over a year for that to eventually play out.

Even if there are no more resignations, the mood in the Conservative party has already turned against Johnson, perhaps decisively.

Under current rules Johnson is safe from another leadership challenge until next summer. But the executive of the 1922 Committee can change the rules whenever it wants.

A new anti-Johnson executive is expected to be elected next week, but even the current executive – more evenly split between loyalists and critics – could act now if it felt there was a consensus in the party.

Johnson is famously stubborn, and he is unlikely to quit just because two ministers have decided to go. But increasingly Conservative MPs believe they have no chance of winning the next election under his leadership.

Ultimately that assessment should prove decisive.

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