British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday amid an unprecedented standoff with his cabinet over a series of scandals that triggered the departure of dozens of other lawmakers.
“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 told reporters outside No. 10 Downing Street.
The embattled Englishman — who was born in Manhattan while his father was attending Columbia University — added “that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week.”
“I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few will also be disappointed,” he continued. “And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to read a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader, in London, Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Frank Augstein/AP)
While the 58-year-old politician immediately relinquished his role as Conservative Party leader, he said he would continue to serve as prime minister until his party chooses his successor. He intends to remain in the role until fall, according to the BBC.
“I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019, many of them voted Conservative, for the first time,” Johnson said. “Thank you for that incredible mandate. The biggest Conservative majority since 1987.”
In a meeting with the remaining members of his Cabinet on Thursday, the prime minister promised he would not make waves in the coming weeks and that his government would not “seek to implement new policies or make major changes of direction.”
President Biden issued a statement Thursday that conspicuously did not mention Johnson’s name.
“The United Kingdom and the United States are the closest of friends and allies, and the special relationship between our people remains strong and enduring,” Biden said. “I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the government of the United Kingdom, as well as our allies and partners around the world, on a range of important priorities.”
Johnson has weathered a series of scandals since his landslide victory in 2019. The latest involves former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, who resigned last week amid allegations he groped two male guests at a private dinner. The news triggered a series of reports about past allegations against Pincher.
The brash Brexit backer faced backlash after he admitted he was aware of the previous accusations, but put Pincher in his government post anyway.
Johnson said Thursday he will remain as British prime minister while a leadership contest is held to choose his successor. (Frank Augstein/AP)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, two of the country’s top Cabinet ministers, along with dozens of other junior ministers have resigned in the days since, citing their lack of confidence in Johnson’s leadership.
Last year, Johnson faced criticism for attending several government gatherings despite lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Later dubbed “Partygate,” the incidents sparked speculation that he could face punishment.
In January, Johnson apologized for joining hundreds of staffers at a “BYOB” garden party in May 2020, when Britons were still barred from gathering together in large groups to stop the spread of COVID-19. While he said he only attended the event to thank his hardworking staffers, he has since come under fire for attending several other shindigs while lockdown protocols were still in place.
Johnson himself battled a severe case of coronavirus and was hospitalized in intensive care in March 2020.
The brash politician had previously resisted calls to leave his post, defiantly telling lawmakers as recently as Wednesday that he had a “colossal mandate” from voters and intended to get on with business as usual.
Among the possible candidates to succeed Johnson include Javid, Sunak, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
With News Wire Services
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News