Boris Johnson has thrown in the towel. At 12.30pm on Thursday the British prime minister appeared outside 10 Downing Street to announce that he will step down as soon as the Conservative Party chooses a new leader. A handful of civil servants and several dozen Conservative MPs surrounded him in silence.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” he said.
Johnson said that did not make this decision earlier because he considered it “my duty” to fulfill the mandate he received in 2019. “I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019, many of them voted Conservative for the first time, thank you for that incredible mandate. The biggest Conservative majority, since 1987.”
Johnson, 58, who just hours before was still determined to remain in office, has not been able to resist the pressure. The PM had come under fire even within his own ranks as a result of mismanagement of several scandals, some of which he was personally involved in.
More than 50 members of his executive had resigned in recent days in protest over the British premier’s attitude to allegations of sexual harassment against a political ally, Conservative MP Chris Pincher.
The Pincher case exploded in the hands of the Tory leader a month after he survived a vote of no confidence over the so-called Partygate, the scandal of the parties held in Downing Street during the Covid pandemic in violation of the rules established to prevent transmission.
The last few hours in Downing Street have been spent appointing new ministers. “I’ve today appointed a Cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place,” said Johnson. “The process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week.”