Boris Johnson to step down as UK PM after UK government collapses
In the latest news, Johnson has reportedly agreed to step down but hopes to stay on until the fall. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party would choose a new prime minister to replace Johnson. There would be no general elections.
That idea was immediately and fiercely dismissed by some lawmakers and party bigwigs who warned that Johnson is smearing the Conservative Party’s brand and that he was too damaged to stay in office over the summer.
Live updates: Boris Johnson set to step down as UK PM
As the world watched Britain’s government crumble, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stepped forward to tweet: “A number of us have an obligation to keep this country safe, few whoever is Prime Minister. The Party has a mechanism for changing leaders and this is the mechanism that I advise my colleagues to use.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, said it was “good news for the country”, but “we don’t need to change the Tories at the top – we need a change of government in due form”.
It was unclear exactly when Johnson would give his address, but broadcasters for hours on Thursday morning pointed their cameras at the famous black door of 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office, and waited for Johnson to emerge.
Johnson woke up Thursday morning in Downing Street, which is also his residence, to another wave of resignations from government officials and party members saying the embattled Prime Minister must resign immediately – for the good not only of his conservative party but for the country.
Before the end of the televised breakfasts, there were 53 resignations, including four cabinet ministers in just two days. Many of the letters included stark assessments of Johnson’s tenure and criticisms of his honesty. Some begged him to leave.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was named Chancellor, the second most important government post, on Tuesday, turned on Johnson on Thursday and told him to step down. He tweeted: “Prime Minister: This is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and above all for the whole country. You must do the right thing and leave now.
Boris Johnson should resign. How did it come to this?
Johnson had so far refused to bow to pressure to step down, saying he had a mandate of 14 million votes from the British people, who voted for him and his party in the last general election in 2019.
But his authority has evaporated over the past 48 hours, with longtime colleagues and allies telling him to leave – resignations seemed to happen every few minutes.
There were so many resignations that it became unclear whether Johnson and his aides could fill the posts quickly enough to keep the government going. Ministers responsible for security, courts, technology, education, finance, Northern Ireland and science have all left their posts.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was among those to resign from his Cabinet post on Thursday morning. He said the UK government demands “honesty, integrity and mutual respect” and has “now passed the point of no return”.
On Thursday morning, Suella Braverman, who has not quit her job and is in Johnson’s cabinet as attorney general, said “the facts are undeniable: he cannot earn the trust of enough people who serve in his government.”
She also said she would run in a leadership race to replace Johnson.
Damian Hinds, the outgoing security minister, told Johnson that “it shouldn’t take the resignation of dozens of colleagues, but for our country and confidence in our democracy, we need to change direction.”
Johnson, who likes to quote Latin and refer to Roman history, faced a growing queue of Brutus imitators.
Former Brexit minister David Frost told Johnson on the BBC that “the game is over”.
Frost said: ‘The Government cannot continue, that is very clear, and I hope the Prime Minister has been able to think overnight and come to the same conclusion himself.
Some have started drawing comparisons to former US President Donald Trump’s attempt to cling to power. Bernard Jenkin, a conservative lawmaker and chairman of the powerful Liaison Committee, told the national broadcaster that Johnson “can go in with some dignity” or he can be “kicked out like Donald Trump, clinging to power and pretending he’s won the election while he lost.”
Until Thursday, Johnson had ignored calls for him to leave. In a fiery session of the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “Frankly, the job of a Prime Minister in difficult circumstances when you are given a colossal mandate is to carry on, and that is what what I’m going to do.”