Faced with an avalanche of resignations from his cabinet ministers and calls for him to step down, Boris Johnson announced this Thursday, July 7, his resignation as prime minister of the United Kingdom. Johnson indicated that he is also resigning from his position as leader of the Conservative Party.
“It is clear that now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party is that there should be a new leader of the party and, therefore, a new prime minister,” he said before the headquarters of the government at 10 Downing Street. However, he specified that he will remain at his post until the Tories elect a new leader.
Johnson pointed out that he has already spoken with Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Committee of Private Members, known as the 1922 Committee, which is a body of the conservative caucus that promoted the motion of no confidence against Johnson in June. The two agreed that the process of choosing the new premier should start “now.” The process schedule will be announced next week.
In parallel, Johnson highlighted the alleged achievements of his tenure, such as the completion of the Brexit process, the normalization of relations with the European Union, the country’s fight against coronavirus and the arms support for Ukraine, in the context of the current conflict with Russia.
“Herd instinct is powerful”
“The reason why I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue fulfilling this mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do it, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you,” he remarked. Addressing the public, Johnson said that he knows that “there will be many who are relieved and maybe quite a few people who will also be disappointed.” “And I want you to know how sad I am to leave the best job in the world,” he added.
During his speech, Johnson stressed that he tried to convince his colleagues that it would be “eccentric” to change the government at this time, “when we are doing so much, we have such a vast mandate.” However, he recognized that his arguments were useless: “It’s painful not being able to see through so many projects. But as we have seen in Westminster [the seat of Parliament], the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves… In politics, no one is remotely indispensable,“ he said.
For her part, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, reacted to the announcement calling Johnson’s decision “correct” and pointing out that the executive now needs “calm and unity” to “continue governing while looking for a new leader.”
Hours earlier, British media reported that Johnson will leave the leadership of the Conservatives and will remain as premier until the party conference, scheduled for October, in which it will be decided who will take Johnson’s place at 10 Downing Street.
Exodus of ministers
The exodus of members from Johnson’s team began on Tuesday with the resignation of the chancellor of the treasury, Rishi Sunak, and the Secretary of Health, Sajid Javid. In all, more than 50 Conservative officials have left their posts.
Among the senior officials who urged Johnson to leave office was Nadhim Zahawi, the new UK chancellor of the exchequer. “Yesterday I made it clear to the prime minister… that there was only one direction this was heading, and that he had to go with dignity,” the official said. “Prime Minister: This is not sustainable and will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and, above all, for the country. You must do the right thing and leave now,” Zahawi wrote on his Twitter account.
The scandal that caused the resignations
The latest controversy surrounding Johnson emerged last week, when it became known that Chris Pincher, a member of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons and the party’s second in charge of discipline, harassed two men in a public place while he was intoxicated. As a result, Pincher resigned from his position and was suspended from the Conservative party.
Since then, it has been revealed that Johnson appointed Pincher to senior party and executive positions despite being aware of other allegations, of sexual misconduct, made against him. On Tuesday, the prime minister apologized for these decisions in a statement to the BBC and admitted that he had been briefed on a complaint against Pincher in 2019 which was subsequently resolved. During Wednesday’s session in Parliament, the president again regretted Pincher’s promotion and specified that he is currently the subject of an independent investigation.
Vote of confidence and ‘Partygate’
The crisis in the government comes a month after the Tories submitted Johnson to a vote of no-confidence. Although the president had 211 votes of support and kept his position, 148 conservative parliamentarians expressed their distrust, which represents more than 40% of the group.
The motion of censure materialized after the publication of a report in which details of the scandal known as “Partygate” were investigated, which was related to the celebration of several parties at the headquarters of the Chief Executive at number 10 Downing Street, in the middle of the first and second national confinements due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The events were held at a time when health regulations prohibited social gatherings in the country.
The verdict of the British (according polls)
Meanwhile, a survey published on July 6 by the YouGov company reflects that the latest scandal related to Pincher made 69% of the British want Johnson to resign, the highest figure recorded since January, when the percentage rose to 63%. in the middle of the coming to light of the details of the “Partygate” scandal.
In addition, 54% of those who voted for the Tories in the 2019 elections also want to see the chief executive out of Downing Street, making it the first time that this rate is higher than the percentage of Conservative voters who continue to support Johnson (33%). This fact stands out especially given that in the June poll, the majority of these voters showed their support for the president.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune