Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have resigned from government saying they no longer have confidence in Boris Johnson to lead the country.
Mr Sunak said the public expected government to be conducted “properly, competently and seriously”.
Mr Javid echoed this in his resignation letter, saying the government was not “acting in the national interest”.
The resignations came minutes after PM sought to draw a line under a row about MP Chris Pincher, who is facing sexual misconduct allegations.
Mr Johnson admitted he had made a “bad mistake” in appointing Mr Pincher to the role of deputy chief whip earlier this year, despite being told about earlier allegations about the MP’s conduct.
His handling of the row has come in for fierce criticism from the opposition and some of his own MPs.
Asked if that was an error to appoint Mr Pincher, Mr Johnson said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.
“I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it.”
The resignations of two senior cabinet ministers plunge Mr Johnson into a leadership crisis weeks after he survived a no-confidence vote.
Mr Johnson won the backing of a majority of Tory MPs in the vote despite a significant revolt against his leadership.
The PM won 59% of the vote, meaning he is now immune from a Conservative leadership challenge until June next year under party rules.
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