After a flood of ministerial resignations in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party, and will step down as prime minister when a new leader is found.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Johnson said he was “immensely proud of the achievements of this government,” but he acknowledged that “in politics, no one is remotely indispensable” and added that he was “sad to be giving up the best job in the world.”
His administration was dogged by months of scandals and dozens of officials, aides and members of his Cabinet quit his government, saying they could no longer serve under his leadership. Several former Cabinet ministers told him he should resign.
The first resignations came on Tuesday night within minutes of each other as two of Johnson’s highest-ranking ministers — the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the health secretary, Sajid Javid- released apparently coordinated statements saying they couldn’t continue to give him their support.
Wednesday started with a slew of other resignations of less prominent MPs, and by mid-afternoon, there had been at least 26 in total. That total had climbed to 42 resignations by Wednesday evening. That was followed by further ministerial resignations on Thursday morning.
The scandal that ultimately ended Johnson’s nearly three-year premiership was triggered by his decision to promote a lawmaker, Chris Pincher, to a position of power even though Johnson knew Pincher had been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint.
Johnson at first denied being aware of the previous complaints, but it later emerged that he had known about them, and he eventually acknowledged that it was a mistake to have named Mr. Pincher to the elevated position.
Johnson confirmed the process to appoint a new leader would begin now, with a timetable set out next week but he could face pressure from ministers and MPs to step down immediately to make way for an interim prime minister while the Conservative Party searches for a new leader. All eyes are now on Johnson’s successor, with speculation rife over which of the “big players” — such as current or former Cabinet ministers — will announce their intention to run.