UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigns after mutiny in his party
It took the resignation of nearly 60 members of his government — almost half the payroll — for Johnson to finally abandon his attempts to cling on to power. Even then, the Prime Minister insisted that he would continue as caretaker leader while the Conservative Party launches the process of choosing a successor.
Some senior figures in his party say even that will be unsustainable, given the dwindling number of people willing to work for him.
Others are already lining up to replace him. Party officials say they will announce the timetable for a leadership election by Monday.
Speaking in front of the famous 10 Downing Street door, the same place where many of his predecessors delivered their own resignation address, Johnson announced that he would be stepping down — without actually saying the words out loud.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore, a new prime minister,” Johnson said.
“The process of choosing that new leader should begin now,” he added, saying the time line will be announced next week.
In a sign that he is planning to stay in the office for as long as he can, Johnson announced he had appointed a new cabinet “to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place.” Appointing new cabinet ministers means that the government can continue to function as he prepares to depart.
Johnson spoke of his attempts to stay on as leader and how “painful” it is for him to step down, but made no mention of the scandals that have proved his political downfall.
“In the last few days, I’ve tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much… and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally,” Johnson said.
“I regret not to have been successful in those arguments, and of course, it’s painful, not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself,” he said, adding that he’s proud of “getting Brexit done” and “leading the West in standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.”
Johnson went on to address voters directly, expressing sadness at stepping down after nearly three years.
“To you, the British public: I know that there will be many people who are relieved and, perhaps, quite a few will also be disappointed,” he said. “And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.”
Johnson has in recent months been engulfed in a series of scandals that forced even his most stalwart supporters to abandon him. The latest was Downing Street’s botched handling of the resignation by Johnson’s former deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher, who was accused of groping two men last week.
Johnson initially attempted to ride out the crisis — despite an unprecedented flight of middle-ranking ministers from the government, a battering at Prime Minister’s Questions and a bruising appearance before a committee of senior lawmakers in Parliament. On Wednesday, he still insisted he wasn’t going to resign.
He finally gave in Thursday after some of his most loyal allies told him that the game was up.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Johnson had made the “right decision” to resign. “We need calmness and unity now and to keep governing while a new leader is found,” she added.
Greg Clark, newly appointed UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that he had a “duty to ensure that the country has a functioning government.”
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said it was “good news for the country” that Johnson had decided to resign, adding that “it should have happened long ago.”
“He was always unfit for office. He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale,” said Starmer on Twitter.
The opposition leader also had scathing words for the Conservatives. “They have been in power for 12 years. The damage they have done is profound. Twelve years of economic stagnation. Twelve years of declining public services. Twelve years of empty promises,” Starmer said.
“Enough is enough. We don’t need to change the Tory at the top — we need a proper change of government. We need a fresh start for Britain.” ( CNN / IM )