British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigns, but will remain in office until new leader is elected

Boris Johnson said on Thursday he was resigning as Britain’s prime minister, bowing to calls from ministerial colleagues and lawmakers in his Conservative Party.

After more than 50 ministers resigned and lawmakers told him to go, an isolated and impotent Johnson spoke outside 10 Downing Street and confirmed he would resign.

“The process of electing that new leader should begin now. And today I have appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will until a new leader is appointed,” Johnson said.

Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process that could take weeks or months.

Johnson admitted it was “painful” not to continue his administration’s work well into the future, with his resignation announcement just over two and a half years after he won a resounding victory in a late 2019 election.

“My friends, in politics no one is remotely indispensable,” he said.

Labor leader says Johnson should not dawdle

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor party, said before the announcement that he would call a confidence vote in parliament if the Conservatives did not remove Johnson immediately.

“If they don’t get rid of him, Labor will stand up in the national interest and cast a vote of no confidence because we can’t go on with this prime minister clinging on for months and months,” he said. †

It’s also not clear whether the majority of his party will support him to stay on for several more weeks, although it appeared to have the support of Secretary of State Liz Truss, who called it “the right decision”.

“We need calm and unity now and continue to rule as long as a new leader is found,” Truss tweeted.

After fighting for his job for days, the scandal-ridden Johnson had been abandoned by nearly a handful of allies after the latest in a series of scandals broke their willingness to support him. Health Minister Sajid Javid and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak resigned within minutes of each other on Tuesday over the latest scandal involving conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher.

“His resignation was inevitable,” Justin Tomlinson, vice chairman of the Conservative Party, said on Twitter. “As a party, we need to unite quickly and focus on what’s important. These are serious times on many fronts.”

The crisis comes as Britons face the worst strain on their finances in decades in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with inflation soaring, and the economy expected to be the weakest of the major economies. countries in 2023, excluding Russia.

Media will gather near 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday in anticipation of Johnson’s expected announcement. (Alberto Pezzali / The Associated Press)

It also follows years of internal divisions fueled by the narrow vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, and threats to the UK’s own constitution with demands for another Scottish independence referendum, the second in a decade.

In his brief speech, Johnson pointed to what he saw as his administration’s achievements, including delivering Brexit that eluded his predecessor, Theresa May, leading Britain’s recovery from the ravages of COVID-19 and the recent , vocal support and military aid for Ukraine as it fights the Russian invasion.

“I know there will be a lot of people who will be relieved and maybe a lot of people who will be disappointed too. And I want you to know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world,” Johnson said in a speech. outside Downing Street.

“But those are the breaks,” he added.

election losses

The recent crisis erupted after lawmaker Pincher, who held a government role in pastoral care, was forced to quit over allegations that he had groped men in a private club.

Johnson had to apologize after it was revealed that he had been informed that Pincher had been the subject of previous sexual misconduct complaints before hiring him. The Prime Minister said he had forgotten.

This followed months of scandal and missteps, including a damning report of drunken parties at his Downing Street home and office breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules and getting him a fine from the police for a rally ahead of his 56th birthday. Johnson was accused of lying about his knowledge of and attendance at the parties.

Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie Johnson cradles their daughter Romy as she listens to her husband’s speech outside 10 Downing Street, along with party members including Nadine Dorries, one of the Prime Minister’s most steadfast allies. (Gareth Fuller/PA/The Associated Press)

There have also been policy changes, an ill-fated defense of a lawmaker who has broken lobbying rules, and criticism that he hasn’t done enough to tackle inflation as many Britons struggle with rising fuel and food prices.

Johnson’s Conservatives have been hit by other scandals from lawmakers accused of sexual improprieties, including two that led MPs Ahmad Khan and Neil Parish to resign. In both cases, the Conservatives lost the special election held last month to replace them.

Johnson seemed ready to dig in, despite being fired this week, and in his speech appeared to be complaining about what he described as “the herd instinct” at Westminster. On Wednesday, he fired Michael Gove, a member of his ministerial team who was one of the first to tell him he had to resign.

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