Embattled UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees to resign


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally succumbed to political reality on Thursday and agreed to resign after the latest ethics scandal surrounding his leadership prompted some 50 senior lawmakers to quit the government.

Johnson clung to power for two days, defiantly telling lawmakers on Wednesday that he had a “colossal mandate” from voters and intended to get on with government business.

But he was forced to concede defeat on Thursday morning after two more members of his cabinet resigned and one of his closest allies, Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi, publicly told him to step down for the good of the country.

However, it was not immediately clear when Johnson would step down.

His resignation will trigger an internal election to choose a new leader of the Conservative Party, who will also be the next prime minister. That process is likely to take place over the summer.

Johnson signaled that he intends to remain in office until that is concluded. Such a move would be controversial, and critics say he should not be allowed to remain even as interim prime minister.

“Now the Prime Minister has finally done the decent thing he needs to hand over the seals of his office, apologize to Her Majesty (Queen Elizabeth II), allow her to appoint a caretaker under whom ministers can serve, so that the Conservative Party can elect a new leader. properly,” George Freeman, who resigned as science minister on Thursday, said in a tweet.

Zahawi, who was promoted earlier this week as Johnson tried to shore up his cabinet, said he and a group of colleagues privately raised their concerns with the prime minister on Wednesday and decided to go public after Johnson ignored advice to resign.

“I am heartbroken that you have not listened to me and are now undermining the incredible achievements of this government,” Zahawi said in a letter posted on Twitter. “But the country deserves a government that is not only stable, but acts with integrity.”

The resignations on Thursday morning meant that 50 cabinet secretaries, ministers and lower-level officials resigned from the government for two days, often criticizing the prime minister for his lack of integrity. With more than 20 vacant seats, the crisis had stalled the work of some parliamentary committees because there were no ministers available to speak on behalf of the government.

It is a humiliating defeat for Johnson, who managed to get Britain out of the European Union and has been credited with launching one of the world’s most successful mass vaccination campaigns to combat COVID-19.

But the perpetually disheveled leader, known for greeting critics with bombast and bravado, was also dogged by criticism that he was willing to bend, and sometimes break, the rules to achieve his goals.

Johnson, 58, managed to stay in power for almost three years, despite accusations that he was too close to party donors, that he shielded his supporters from allegations of intimidation and corruption, and that he misled to Parliament on the parties in government offices that violated the confinement rules due to the pandemic.

Recent revelations that Johnson knew about sexual misconduct allegations against a Conservative lawmaker before he promoted him to a senior government post turned out to be one more scandal.

The crisis began when Chris Pincher resigned as deputy whip chief amid allegations that he had groped two men at a private club. That triggered a series of reports about past allegations against Pincher.

Johnson tried to deflect criticism with shifting explanations about what he knew and when he knew it, but that only highlighted concerns that the prime minister could not be trusted.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury chief Rishi Sunak resigned within minutes of each other on Tuesday night, prompting a wave of departures among their cabinet colleagues and lower-level officials.

Javid captured the mood of many lawmakers when he said Johnson’s actions threatened 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 the House of Commons on Wednesday. “I think that point is now.”

Bernard Jenkin, a senior Conservative Party lawmaker, told the BBC that he met with Johnson later that day and advised him to resign.

“I just told him, ‘Look, it’s only when you leave now, and that’s how you leave. You can leave with some dignity or you can be kicked out like Donald Trump, holding on to power and pretending you’ve won the election when you’ve lost.’ . .”‘

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