Construction minister Lee Rowley has resigned and called for Boris Johnson to step down over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.
It comes just two hours after housing minister Stuart Andrew resigned from his post for the same reason, stating he could no longer tolerate “having to defend the indefensible”.
Rowley announced his resignation alongside four other ministers, including levelling up minister Neil O’Brien and local government minister Kemi Badenoch.
In a joint statement addressed to the prime minister, the five ministers said it had become “increasingly clear that the government cannot function given the issues that have come to light and the way in which they have been handled”.
It added: “In good faith, we must ask that, for the good of the [Conservative] party and the country, you step aside.”
With great regret and sadness, I resigned as Minister for Industry this morning. pic.twitter.com/PYXiLQheQt
— Lee Rowley (@Lee4NED) July 6, 2022
Rowley, who has served as the MP for North East Derbyshire since Theresa May’s snap 2017 election, was appointed construction minister in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in September last year.
He was the sixth person to hold the post in the last two and a half years.
The role functions as the industry’s main point of contact with the government and includes the position of co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council.
Pressure on Johnson to quit has accelerated rapidly over the past 24 hours following the resignations of chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid yesterday evening.
The departure of O’Brien and Badenoch, who worked alongside Andrew, means that Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Local Government has lost half of its six ministers.
Prisons minister Victoria Atkins, who was responsible for overseeing the government’s £1bn prisons programme, also resigned earlier today.
It brings the total number of ministers and aides who have quit since yesterday evening to 27.