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Fact check: False claim that members of Boris Johnson's Cabinet were arrested before resigning

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/29/2022 BrieAnna J. Frank, USA TODAY
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The claim: Boris Johnson’s entire Cabinet of 15 members were arrested before resigning  

Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on July 13, 2022 in London, England. © Carl Court Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on July 13, 2022 in London, England.

After days of tumult over a sexual misconduct scandal and a flurry of resignations from UK government officials, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his own resignation in early July. It marked the latest addition to a list of controversies that emerged under Johnson's leadership, but a social media post claimed to have news about an even larger scandal. 

“Breaking News! Good News! The entire Boris Johnson cabinet of 15 members were arrested before resigning!” read a July 23 Facebook post that was shared more than 300 times in less than two days.

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Several comments on the post welcomed the purported news, with one user calling it “awesome” and another writing “BRAVO.” 

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While there were a slew of resignations by UK government officials prior to Johnson's announcement, not every member of his Cabinet stepped down. And there is no evidence that any of those who did were arrested. 

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment. 

Most Cabinet members remained in their positions throughout scandal

Outcry over Johnson’s knowledge of reports of sexual misconduct against Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher prompted two top Cabinet members, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, to submit their resignations on July 5, as reported by The New York Times.

The following day, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart followed suit with a resignation letter that said he saw “no other option,” according to the BBC

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Education Secretary Michelle Donelan also resigned, per the BBC, with the latter leaving her position less than two days after she started

But USA TODAY found no reports by law enforcement agencies or media outlets that any of the handful of Cabinet members were arrested prior to resigning.

Sunak, along with Johnson and dozens of others, were fined by police in 2020 for attending a party at the prime minister's residence that violated UK COVID-19 lockdown rules, The Associated Press reported.

More: Who will succeed Boris Johnson as Britain's next prime minister?

The notion that Johnson’s Cabinet is made up entirely of 15 members is also off-base. According to the UK Parliament website, the Cabinet comprises “20 or so” individuals selected by the prime minister.

Excluding Johnson, there are 22 Cabinet ministers listed on the UK government’s official website. Their biographies indicate most have been in their current positions since well before the recent wave of resignations. 

Our rating: False 

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Boris Johnson’s entire Cabinet of 15 members was arrested before resigning. The UK Cabinet is made up of around 20 individuals, not all of whom resigned in the wake of Johnson’s scandal. Additionally, there is no evidence that any of those who did resign were arrested prior to doing so. 

Our fact-check sources: 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim that members of Boris Johnson's Cabinet were arrested before resigning

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