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Boris Johnson to resign as UK prime minister: Reports

Boris Johnson to resign as UK prime minister: Reports

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks at Downing Street in London, Britain Jul 6, 2022. (Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls)

LONDON: Boris Johnson will announce his resignation as British prime minister on Thursday (Jul 6), multiple media outlets reported and a government source said, after he was abandoned by ministers and his Conservative Party's lawmakers who said he was no longer fit to govern.

"Boris Johnson will resign as Conservative leader today - he will continue as Prime Minister until the autumn," the BBC said.

"A Conservative leadership race will take place this summer and a new Prime Minister will be in place in time for the Tory party conference in October."

With eight ministers, including two secretaries of state, resigning in the last two hours, an isolated and powerless Johnson was set to bow to the inevitable and declare he was stepping down later.

His Downing Street office confirmed that Johnson would make a statement to the country later.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer called it "good news" that Johnson was going to quit but said what was needed was "a proper change of government".

The latest development follows more than 50 resignations since Tuesday by ministers of various ranks and their Tory MP aides, as Johnson's support dramatically dropped away following a slew of recent scandals.

Sun Political Editor Harry Cole said Johnson was aiming to carry on as prime minister until a new leader was chosen later in the summer, a task that can take up to two months.

Johnson had been clinging on to power despite the wave of resignations.

But Thursday's departure of education minister Michelle Donelan and a plea to quit from finance minister Nadhim Zahawi, only in their jobs for two days, appeared to tip the balance.

"This is not sustainable and it will only get worse: For you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly of all the country," Zahawi said on Twitter. "You must do the right thing and go now."

Some of those that remained in post, including defence minister Ben Wallace, said they were only doing so because they had an obligation to keep the country safe.

It was far cry from when Johnson, 58, rose to power in 2019 when he won a large majority, capturing votes in parts of Britain that had never supported his Conservative Party before.

"His resignation was inevitable," Justin Tomlinson, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, said on Twitter. "As a party we must quickly unite and focus on what matters. These are serious times on many fronts."

The Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take about two months.

There had been so many ministerial resignations that the government was facing paralysis.

The ebullient Johnson came to power nearly three years ago, promising to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union and rescue it from the bitter wrangling that followed the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Since then, some Conservatives had enthusiastically backed the former journalist and London mayor while others, despite reservations, supported him because he was able to appeal to parts of the electorate that usually rejected their party.

That was borne out in the December 2019 election. But his administration's combative and often chaotic approach to governing and a series of scandals have exhausted the goodwill of many of his lawmakers while opinion polls show he is no longer popular with the public at large.

The shock resignations of finance chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid late Tuesday set off a chain of others.

They quit after Johnson apologised for appointing as deputy chief whip senior Conservative MP Chris Pincher, who was forced to step down following accusations he drunkenly groped two men.

It emerged that Johnson had been briefed that Pincher had been the subject of previous sexual misconduct complaints before he appointed him. The prime minister said he had forgotten.

This followed months of scandals and missteps, including a damning report into boozy parties at his Downing Street residence and office that broke strict COVID-19 lockdown rules and saw him fined by police over a gathering for his 56th birthday.

There have also been policy U-turns, an ill-fated defence of a lawmaker who broke lobbying rules, and criticism that he has not done enough to tackle inflation, with many Britons struggling to cope with rising fuel and food prices.

Source: Agencies/ga
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