London — After challenging rejecting calls for his resignation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he would step down as leader of his party, which will eventually see him removed from his post as leader of the country. Addressing the nation outside his office at 10 Downing Street, Johnson thanked the British for the “tremendous privilege” they had given him, but said he agreed it was time for his Conservative Party to have a new leader.
“It is now clearly the will of the Conservative Parliamentary Party that there is a new leader of that party, and therefore a new prime minister,” Johnson said. “I have today appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place.”
Earlier on Thursday, the BBC reported that Johnson planned to continue as prime minister until the fall. This plan was quickly questioned by other conservatives.
BBC News quoted Conservative lawmaker and former National Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng as saying the country, not just the party, needs a new leader “as soon as possible”, and former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said in a tweet that there was “no way he can stay until October. It’s absolute nonsense to think he can.
Former Prime Minister John Major has written to a group of Tory MPs who are deciding the timetable for choosing a new party leader to say Johnson should not be allowed to remain in office until the autumn.
‘For the general welfare of the country, Mr Johnson should not remain in Downing Street – when he is unable to win the confidence of the House of Commons – longer than necessary to effect a smooth transition of government,’ Major wrote.
Opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said Johnson “has to go. He can’t hang on” as caretaker prime minister. If Johnson did not resign as Prime Minister, Starmer warned that “Labour, in the national interest, will take a vote of no confidence. Because this cannot continue.”
Johnson’s announcement came after a stream of high profile resignations by members of his government earlier this week, and called for his exit by members of his party.
In his statement, Johnson thanked voters for what he called an “incredible tenure” and said “the reason I fought so hard over the past few days to continue to serve this term in person was not not just because I wanted to, but I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to keep doing what we promised.”
He said Britain’s “brilliant and Darwinian” system would produce a new leader as committed as he was, but “as we saw at Westminster, the herd instinct is strong, and when the herd moves, it moves. And my friends, in politics no one is absolutely indispensable.”
Johnson said he would back whoever was chosen as the new leader of the Conservative Party and, to the sound of boos from a crowd gathered in a nearby street, told the British public directly that he knew ‘there will be a lot people who will be relieved, and maybe quite a few people who will also be disappointed. And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But those are the breaks.
Earlier on Thursday, when reports of Johnson’s decision to step down first emerged, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood told the BBC he was pleased Johnson had “acknowledged the damage that was being done, not just to party brand, but also to our international stock,” and decided to withdraw.
A long string of scandals have engulfed Johnson, the latest involving former government minister Chris Pincher, who recently quit after being accused of groping two men. Pincher was appointed Deputy Chief Whip by Johnson, and the Prime Minister initially claimed he was unaware of the allegations of misconduct against Pincher. Johnson’s office changed the official account of what the Prime Minister knew twice in the past week when new information came to light.
Just last month, Johnson narrowly survived a vote of no confidence by his own party. In April, he was fined by police for breaching COVID-19 restrictions during Britain’s pandemic lockdown, when he attended parties at his official residence.
On Wednesday, even after dozens of members of his government resigned, Johnson appeared to remain defiant.
“Frankly… the prime minister’s job in difficult circumstances, when given a colossal mandate, is to carry on,” he said Wednesday afternoon in the House of Commons of Britain’s parliament. do.”
During this meeting, Johnson was repeatedly criticized and urged by a number of ministers from opposition parties to stand down. At the end of the meeting, the lawmakers could be heard shouting: “Bye, Boris!”
For members of the government who resigned on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Pincher scandal seems to have been the last straw.
“Working the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months, and Mr President, I will never risk losing my integrity,” Sajid Javid, the former health minister, said in his resignation statement. during a meeting of parliament on Wednesday.
Javid said he had given the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt for the last time.
Johnson’s nearly 3-year tenure as Prime Minister is likely to be remembered for his inauguration of Britain European Union’s controversial ‘Brexit’a cause he had championed and campaigned for for the past few months in his previous job as Mayor of London.
Immediately after the 2016 referendum that saw British voters narrowly approve leaving the EU, Johnson was appointed British Foreign Secretary by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
In 2018, however, he resigned from the post over what he claimed was May’s failure to broker a Brexit deal with the EU.
About a year later, May herself was forced to resign after members of her own Conservative party rejected several of her proposed Brexit deals. Johnson was chosen to replace her. It was not until December 2019 that Johnson’s EU withdrawal agreement was finally approved by the UK Parliament and the UK officially left the European Union the following month.