Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to resign, according to two officials familiar with his thinking, following an unprecedented wave of resignations from his government over the past two days.
A close aide said Johnson had shown over the past 48 hours that he would fight, but admitted he should resign. He would remain as caretaker prime minister until October, with a new Conservative leader installed in time for the party’s annual convention.
Johnson will also give a statement to the country on Thursday.
Johnson is bowing down to the inevitable after dozens of his government’s ministers and junior aides, and members of his cabinet – including newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadim Zahvi – said on their face that he should step down. .
On Wednesday, the premier was defiant with his team saying it intended to fill the vacant positions. But the exodus continued on Thursday morning, with two cabinet ministers, along with several junior ministers, and Jahvi tweeting that the situation was “not sustainable.”
Prime Minister: It is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly for the country as a whole. You should do the right thing and go now. pic.twitter.com/F2iKT1PhvC
— nadim zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) 7 July 2022
It’s a humiliating end for a prime minister who helped secure a thumping majority for his party in the 2019 general election and suggested only last month that he intends to serve in the 2030s.
Just last week, Johnson was preparing to make his closing statement at the NATO summit in Madrid, with gatherings around the world following eight days of international diplomacy with enthusiasm. He shrugged off questions from traveling journalists about his domestic conflict, preferring to focus his efforts on supporting Ukraine in the fight against Russia.
This is how he wanted to be portrayed: a powerful world leader who was ready to stand up to threats and help those most in need.
But Tory anger has snowballed over the past week as it emerged the premier promoted an MP, Chris Pincher, to a senior government role in 2019 despite a formal complaint of unfair treatment. Pincher’s behavior that followed the changing message of his office about what he knew and when raised new questions about the prime minister’s integrity and judgment.
Johnson’s planned departure will now spark a contest to succeed him as Tory party leader – and prime minister – that is likely to take weeks. Although there is no clear front-runner, possible contenders include Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak – whose resignations on Tuesday along with former Health Secretary Sajid Javid triggered a flood of departures over the past two days.
Javid and Jahvi may also run, while Attorney General Suella Braverman said late Wednesday that she intends to do so. Others with ambitions include former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s runner-up in the 2019 contest, and former Defense Secretary Penny Mordant, who has been favored by some speculators.