Boris Johnson resigns as UK Prime Minister
Johnson’s departure comes after intense pressure after the prime minister lost party support amid multiple scandals.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnsonannounced this Thursday, 7, that he leaves the position of leader of the Conservative party, which means that he will no longer be UK head of government.
He will remain interim prime minister until the party decides on the new name. “To the public, I know many will be relieved. I am sad to be handing over the best job in the world,” he said.
Johnson said a timeline on the process for choosing a next leader would be detailed next week and that he would support the new name. The prime minister said he is “immensely proud” of his achievements during his rule.
Johnson’s departure comes after intense pressure after the prime minister lost the party’s support amid several scandals. Wrapped in crises in recent months, the Prime Minister of UK entered the hot seat once and for all after a sex scandal by a parliamentarian close to the government.
One by one, at least 50 members of the government have already left their posts. Finally, in a tense meeting on Wednesday night, even a delegation with its main allies tried to convince Johnson to resign for good, but the prime minister refused to leave.
What happens in the UK after Boris Johnson leaves
Officially, the next scheduled general election in the UK is not until 2025, and Johnson was supposed to stay in office until that date.
With the departure of the current prime minister, the leadership would continue with the Conservative Party, having won the last elections in 2019.
Now, it is up to the Conservative Party to vote among its members (including affiliated citizens) to choose a new leader, who, due to the majority of the party in Parliament, would then be the new prime minister.
The party is likely to spend months in a fierce internal dispute over the succession, which should again destabilize British politics at a delicate moment – with inflation reaching 8% as the global crisis and the war in Ukraine affect Europe.
The opposition may gain strength and the current leader of Labor, Keir Starmerhas called for early elections in the face of the crisis in the government.
In the UK, a mostly two-party system operates, with the Conservative and Labor parties further to the left on the spectrum. The party that wins the most seats in the general election chooses the prime minister.
The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, with David Cameron (2010-16), then Theresa May (2016-19) and Johnson himself (from 2019).
The last Labor prime minister was only Gordon Brown (2007-10), who succeeded Tony Blair, who was in office for a decade (1997-2007).
Why Boris Johnson resigned
The resignation comes after sex scandals involving the conservative parliamentarian came to light. Chris Pincher. Pincher resigned from his position as one of the government’s leaders in Parliament last week after acknowledging that he groped two men, including an MP, while intoxicated at a London club. “Dear Prime Minister: Last night I drank heavily,” Pincher wrote in a resignation letter.
The case might not be an ultimate scandal in other situations. But with a Johnson administration already questioned by other scandals and rising inflation in the UK, the case has evolved into accusations of “loss of confidence” in the government.
There were already known allegations of harassment against Pincher since at least 2017, including with documented cases against other men. So the main recent issue involves Johnson’s decision to nominate the MP anyway (Pincher is known to be a very loyal MP to Johnson and able to turn votes in favor of the government).
In the early days, Johnson’s Conservative Party allies continued to claim that the prime minister was unaware of any allegations against Pincher before appointing him. Later, when it became clear that the prime minister already knew about Pincher’s controversial past, Johnson said he had made a “mistake” and “forgotten”.
Johnson has earned the nickname “liar” according to opinion polls. In recent days, a growing number of conservative politicians have lashed out at public criticism of Johnson.
Before that, the Johnson administration had already almost lost office in a vote of confidence in Parliament last month, after it became public that parties took place at the official government residence during lockdowns in the pandemic. The case became known as “partygate”, and the prime minister barely survived.
Who is Boris Johnson
Once known primarily for anti-system bluster, Boris Johnson is 58 years old and a former journalist. He was once Mayor of London and UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the British Commonwealth.
Boris Johnson was elevated to the British political elite following the Brexit referendum, in which a tight majority of 52% of Britons opted to leave the European Union. Johnson was one of the leading pro-Brexit voices, but he had never been one of the traditional conservative elite until then.
Johnson ended up reaching the post of prime minister in the face of the tension that marked the post-Brexit years in the United Kingdom. With former Prime Minister Theresa May unable to close a deal to effect Brexit, Johnson was chosen leader of the Conservative Party and launched as prime candidate in the new general elections called at the end of 2019 after May’s departure.