Leading the UK since 2019 and a spearhead of the 2016 Brexit campaign, an isolated and powerless Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister today.
A huge revolt occurred in Johnson’s Conservative party, during which over 50 lawmakers resigned in the span of a 36 hours starting on Tuesday night, when Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, and Sajid Javid, the health secretary, quit the government.
Many officials called on Johnson to resign, stating that they could not serve the country under his rule. Subsequently, Boris Johnson declared his resignation in a speech outside 10 Downing Street today, saying he would stay on as prime minister until a new leader is selected.
Scandal and controversy have dogged Johnson’s government and the man himself, especially in the last months. Recently in April, Johnson was fined for breaking his own laws, by attending and permitting several parties during the UK’s covid 19 lockdown. At least one party was at his official residence, 10 Downing Street.
Following this incident, Johnson’s ethics advisor, Christopher Geidt, resigned, citing the prime minister’s willingness to break his own ministerial code.
Later that month, the Conservative party lost two important by-elections by significant margins, signifying the party’s dwindling popularity. Johnson argued to the latter that his huge mandate—his December 2019 general election win with a landslide majority—meant he should continue even in the face of great internal opposition.
The final straw for most of his ministers came at the end of June when Chris Pincher, the Conservative deputy chief whip, resigned after being accused of groping two guests at a private members’ club. Initially denying having been told of any specific allegations against Pincher, Johnson later confessed that he had been briefed on the issue in 2019.
Today, Nadhim Zahawi, named by Johnson as the new chancellor just a day earlier, called for him to step down in a tweeted letter. Michelle Donelan, appointed as the new education secretary yesterday, resigned within 24 hours.
Many Conservatives have expressed anger that Johnson chose to cling to power for so long rather than stepping aside when his support began to crumble.
If Johnson is forced to leave office immediately, though, his job will be filled temporarily by an interim prime minister. One likely candidate for this role is the deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, who fulfilled those duties when Johnson was in hospital with covid in 2020.