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Boris Johnson Will Resign As Prime Minister

Boris Johnson Will Resign As Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has stood down as Prime Minister after a string of ministerial resignations (Alamy)

5 min read

Boris Johnson will quit as Prime Minister on Thursday after being forced out by his own party.

The BBC reported he would go after a string of ministerial resignations sparked by the handling of the Chris Pincher misconduct accusations eventually led to him deciding to step down after almost three years in the role, with a statement expected on the steps of Number 10 later today.

In the end the calls by Nadhim Zahawi, who he only appointed as Chancellor less than 48 hours ago, and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, for him to resign were likely to have further forced his hand.

The crisis in his leadership was sparked by Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid’s decision to step down from Cabinet on Tuesday night, which led to more MPs leaving their government positions that evening.

A steady trickle of further resignations on Wednesday morning became a torrent, with five ministers sending a joint letter quitting their roles. Johnson had struggled at Prime Minister's Questions to defend his actions in keeping Pincher on as a minister, and then promoting him to deputy chief whip in February, despite a slew of harassment allegations against him.

By the time he appeared in front of the Liaison Committee at 3pm yesterday almost 30 ministers, parliamentary aides and trade envoys had resigned.

A delegation of Cabinet colleagues went into Downing Street to tell him to step down but Johnson refused to go, instead sacking Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove for disloyalty.

However, a string of further resignations by ministers followed on Thursday morning, including the newly-appointed Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, who had only been in place for one day.

With all authority drained the PM is set to announce plans to leave Number 10, with senior Tory figures aiming for a new leader in time for party conference, a source adding: "Lots of discussions to take place."

But two former ministers have told PoliticsHome that Johnson cannot stay on until October.

One, an ex-Secretary of State, said staying in power until late this year was not “credible” and that the Prime Minister had “not really understood how much damage his behaviour yesterday has done”.

“Given how undignified yesterday was, particularly his demeanour towards the end of the day, to try and be in control of a smooth transition doesn’t wash," they said.

The second said the new PM needed to be in place by the time MPs return from summer recess in September.

The senior Tory MP also reiterated those calls, saying: "Ministers resigned because of the PM. The Party lost confidence because of the PM.

"It is beyond credulity that Mr Johnson can stay in office even pro tem. New constitutional territory but he has to go and go means go."

There are questions about whether the government can continue to function after the resignations of 60 of its members, but Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis has told MPs business "continues".

Responding to deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner's Urgent Question in the Commons, he said: "As the House will be aware, it is widely reported that the Prime Minister is about to make an important statement shortly.

"I cannot pre-empt the Prime Minister's statement and the House and nation will hear more imminently.

"In the meantime, the business of government continues, supported in the usual way by our excellent civil service.

“There will be continue to be ministers of the crown in place including in all great offices of state.

“We must continue to serve our country, constituents and the general public first and foremost."

Earlier Zahawi posted a letter on Twitter urging Johnson to go, and confirming he was part of the delegation of Cabinet minister "that there was only one direction where this was going, and that he should leave with dignity".

He said he hoped the PM "would listen to an old friend of 30 years", adding he was "heartbroken" he had not listened to his colleagues, and that the "country deserves a government that is not only stable, but which acts with integrity".

"Prime Minister, you know in your heart what the right thing to do is, and go now," he concluded.

Wallace, a staunch loyalist, also called on his former ally to be replaced as Conservative leader, writing: "A number of us have an obligation to keep this country safe, no matter who is PM.

"The Party has a mechanism to change leaders and that is the mechanism which I advise colleagues to use. In the meantime, the public would not forgive us if we left these Offices of State empty."

In response to the news Johnson will now go, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it "should have happened long ago".

"He was always unfit for office," he said. "He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale. And all those who have been complicit should be utterly ashamed.

"The Tory Party have inflicted chaos upon the country during the worst cost of living crisis in decades, and they cannot now pretend they are the ones to sort it out."

Starmer added that "enough is enough", echoing the words of Javid in his resignation statement to the Commons, saying "we need a proper change of government".

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