LONDON - Boris Johnson on Wednesday refused to quit as British prime minister, despite a slew of resignations from his scandal-hit government, piling on pressure as he faced a grilling from angry MPs. The 58-year-old leader promised to "deliver" on his "mandate" but his grip on power appears to be slipping following 10 short minutes on Tuesday night, when Rishi Sunak resigned as finance minister and Sajid Javid quit as health secretary.

Both said they could no longer tolerate the culture of scandal that has stalked Johnson for months, including lockdown lawbreaking in Downing Street that enraged the public who followed the rules.

At the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions in parliament, MPs from all sides rounded on Johnson. But brushing off calls to resign, he told MPs: "Frankly, the job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when you have been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that's what I'm going to do." Johnson has suffered an exodus of ministers in just 24 hours and later faced an hours-long grilling from the chairs of the House of Commons' most powerful committees, including some of his most virulent critics in the Tory ranks.

Boris Johnson tells MPs he will ‘keep going in difficult circumstances’

Sunak and Javid's departures came just minutes after Johnson apologised for appointing a senior Conservative, who quit his post last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men.

Former education secretary Nadhim Zahawi was immediately handed the finance brief. "You don't go into this job to have an easy life," Zahawi told Sky News.

Boris Johnson is battling to stay in office, amid a growing wave of resignations from his government in protest at his leadership. New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has urged unity after his predecessor, the health secretary, and several junior ministers walked out.

But the Prime Minister has been hit by six further resignations, taking the total to 16 in the past day. Johnson's premiership has been plunged into crisis following the dramatic resignations of Chancellor and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid. They quit within minutes of each other on Tuesday following a row over Mr Johnson's decision to appoint Chris Pincher as Deputy Chief Whip earlier this year. More MPs walked out and likely to exit the Cabinet.