U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, his office said Thursday, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has paralyzed Britain’s government.
An official in Johnson’s Downing Street office confirmed the prime minister would announce his resignation later. An official in Johnson’s Downing Street office spoke to the press on condition that no announcement be made.
Johnson refused to resign from his Cabinet in the face of scandals involving ethics. After more than 40 ministers quit Johnson’s government, he agreed to let him go.
Johnson will remain in office, but it was not clear if he would be re-elected by the Conservative Party.
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Just minutes before breaking the news, Treasury chief Nadhim Zihawi called upon Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had just appointed him to his job 36 hours earlier. A new Cabinet minister, however, resigned.
Zahawi said Johnson knew “the right thing to do” was to “go now.”
Zahawi was named to the position of Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, after he resigned claiming he could not support Johnson because of a number ethics scandals.
Michelle Donelan (Education Secretary), was appointed Tuesday after the resignation of her predecessor. She announced her resignation on Thursday morning.
Johnson refused to resign, digging his heels as many officials quit. His loyal friends urged him to pursue yet another scandal that had engulfed the leadership.
A group of Johnson’s most trusted Cabinet ministers visited him at his office in Downing Street Wednesday, telling him to stand down after losing the trust of his party. British media report that Johnson decided to pursue his political ambitions and fired Michael Gove, a Cabinet minister.
Rarely does a prime minister cling to power despite the immense pressure from Cabinet colleagues. The Guardian’s frontpage on Thursday called him “Desperate, deluded.”
“He’s breached the trust that was put in him. He should recognize that he does not have the moral authority and responsibility to be a leader. And for him, it’s over,” Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford told The Associated Press.
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Johnson, now 58, is known for his skill in wriggling out of tight spots. Johnson remained at the top despite accusations that he had too many party donors. He was also accused of protecting supporters against bullying and corruption claims. Additionally, he misled Parliament about how government offices broke pandemic lockdown rules and misleading the public.
Recent revelations by Johnson that he knew of the sexual misconduct accusations against Chris Pincher (a Conservative lawmaker) before he promoted him to a higher position proved to be the final straw.
Pincher was reported to have groped two males at a club. He resigned last week as the deputy chief whip. That triggered a series of reports about past allegations leveled against Pincher—and shifting explanations from the government about what Johnson knew when he tapped him for a senior job enforcing party discipline.
Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, and Rishi Sunak (Treasury chief) resigned in a matter of minutes each Wednesday after the scandal. The two Cabinet heavyweights were responsible for 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 threaten to undermine the integrity of the Conservative Party and the British government.
“At some point we have to conclude that enough is enough,” he told fellow lawmakers Wednesday. “I believe that point is now.”
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