deserting/leaving a sinking ship

desert a sinking ship

To leave a situation in which failure is imminent. This phrase alludes to rats, the first ones said to flee a sinking ship. The CEO's sudden resignation seemed strange at the time, but now we know that he was just deserting a sinking ship, as the company has become plagued by scandal.
See also: desert, ship, sink

(like rats) deserting/leaving a sinking ˈship

(humorous, disapproving) used to talk about people who leave an organization, a company, etc. that is having difficulties, without caring about the people who are left: One by one, employees began looking for other jobs, like rats deserting a sinking ship.I might have known he’d be the first rat to desert this sinking ship!
See also: desert, leave, ship, sink