British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned as the Conservative leader amid a cabinet revolt but pledged to stay as the prime minister until his successor was chosen. In a statement outside Downing Street, the PM acknowledged that “no one is remotely indispensable” and accepted that it was the will of the Conservative party that he should leave No 10, the office of the prime minister.
Johnson also signalled his intention to stay as the prime minister until his successor is chosen his successor, potentially until the autumn. The incident laid bare the rift between the prime minister and his party members over the Chris Pincher affair and other scandals. The cabinet members, including his new chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, were urging him to quit.
Flanked by his wife and several supporters, Johnson said that he was “sad to be giving up the best job in the world” and claimed it was “eccentric” to change the government at this instant. “I regret not to have been successful in those arguments,” he said.
“When the herd moves, it moves”, he said, in an apparent reference to the cabinet members and party members moving against him. Johnson said that he had “appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place”, triggering an immediate backlash among Tory MPs.
Senior Conservative MPs are pushing back against the idea of Johnson staying in office and want to see an interim leader take his place until his successor is chosen. Labour also said that it would force a confidence vote against the PM unless he leaves No 10 immediately.
Boris Johnson was surrounded by controversy for months before his resignation as the Conservative leader. Support drained away from him as more than 50 ministers and government aides resigned in a rolling walkout and a slew of once supporting backbenchers declared no confidence in his leadership.
The revolt against Johnson began on Tuesday evening with the resignations of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak as health secretary and chancellor respectively. His exit follows three years of scandals, including fury over his handling of harassment allegations against Chris Pincher, the deputy chief whip; a police fine over lockdown parties in Downing Street, attempts to change the standards system, and accusations of breaking international law.