It’s official – Boris Johnson announced his resignation as prime minister but defied pressure to step down immediately, insisting he would remain in office until a new Conservative party leader is chosen. In an address in front of No 10 Downing Street, after days of turmoil and mass resignations from his government, the prime minister said: “It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative party that there should be a new leader for the Conservative party and therefore a new prime minister.”
Johnson, one the most controversial British leaders in modern times, said the timing of the leadership contest would be announced next week. However many Conservatives, including a number of former ministers, believe Johnson should leave Downing St immediately. “There’s no way I could serve under him in any circumstances,” said one.
BoJo also took a swipe at his own political party which abandoned him in record short time, saying “the herd instinct is powerful, and when it moves, it moves.”
“Them’s the breaks”, Johnson summarized his exit. His departure will end a tumultuous three years in office marked by Britain’s exit from the EU, the ravages of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and a cost of living crisis, as well as his 2019 election win — the Tories’ biggest victory for over four decades.
Before his speech Johnson had already started to fill some ministerial vacancies, with Greg Clark set to come in — temporarily — as levelling-up secretary. James Cleverly becomes the third education secretary in as many days.
Johnson intends to convene his hastily assembled interim cabinet for a meeting on Thursday afternoon, in an attempt to convey a sense that he wants to maintain national stability.
Johnson’s announcement has fired the starting gun on the race to succeed him, with a wide array of candidates expected to confirm they are running in the coming days. There is no clear frontrunner.
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Watch as BoJo announces his resignation:
In the end, PredictIt was right…
… and the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was the announcement by Boris Johnson’s newly appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi who also called on BoJo to quit just one day after his appointment, saying “Prime minister, you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now,” Zahawi wrote. “The country deserves a government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity.”