Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to step down, his office announced on Thursday, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has crippled the UK government.
An official in Johnson’s office in Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister would announce his resignation later. The manager spoke on condition of anonymity as the announcement had not yet been made.
Johnson had pushed back on calls from his cabinet to step down following ethics scandals. He gave in after more than 40 ministers left his government and told him to go.
It was not immediately clear whether Johnson would stay in power while the Conservative Party chooses a new leader, who will replace him as prime minister.
Minutes before the news broke, Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down just 36 hours after Johnson appointed him to the post, while another newly appointed minister resigned from his position.
Zahawi said Johnson knew “the right thing to do” was to “leave now”.
Zahawi was named Tuesday night to replace Rishi Sunak, who resigned saying he could no longer support Johnson after a series of ethics scandals.
Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, who was also appointed on Tuesday following the resignation of her predecessor, announced her resignation on Thursday morning. after another scandal engulfed its leadership.
A group of Johnson’s most trusted Cabinet ministers visited him at his Downing Street office on Wednesday, telling him to stand down after losing his party’s trust. But Johnson chose to fight for his political career instead and sacked one of the Cabinet officials, Michael Gove, British media reported.
It is rare for a prime minister to cling to office in the face of so much pressure from his cabinet colleagues. The Guardian’s front page on Thursday called him ‘Desperate, deceived’.
“He broke the trust we had in him. He must recognize that he no longer has the moral authority to lead. And for him, it’s over,” Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford told the media.
Johnson (58) was known for his talent for getting out of difficult situations. He remained in power despite allegations that he was too close to party donors, shielded supporters from allegations of intimidation and corruption, and misled parliament and was dishonest to the public about parties in government office that broke pandemic lockdown rules.
But recent revelations that Johnson knew about the sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, a Tory lawmaker, before promoting the man to a senior position have proven to be the final straw.
Last week Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip after complaining about groping two men at a private club. It sparked a series of reports into past allegations against Pincher – and shifting explanations from the government about what Johnson knew when he hired him for a leadership role under party discipline.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak resigned within minutes of each other on Wednesday over the scandal. The two Cabinet heavyweights were tasked with tackling two of the biggest issues facing Britain – the cost of living crisis and COVID-19.
Javid captured the mood of many lawmakers when he said Johnson’s actions threatened to damage the integrity of the Conservative Party and the UK government. “I believe that point is now.” – The Hindu