British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader Thursday, surrounded by family and supporters standing outside his official London residence No. 10 Downing Street.
The flamboyant politician said he would stay on as prime minister until a replacement is chosen.
His dramatic downfall comes after several ministers from his own Conservative Party resigned their posts and publicly urged him to step down, citing concerns over his judgment, authority and leadership.
A series of scandals over coronavirus lockdown parties, the refurbishment of his official apartment and the appointment of an ally accused of sexual misconduct and other issues contributed to Johnson’s fall from grace.
Johnson initially refused to concede power, digging in for days as lawmakers accused him of plunging Britain into a near constitutional crisis.
But on Thursday he told the British public he was “sad” to be “giving up the best job in the world,” and promised to support the new leader, remarking in his characteristically upbeat manner that the future of the United Kingdom remained “golden.”
I want to thank you, the British public, for the immense privilege of serving you as Prime Minister.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 7, 2022
Journalist Chris Mason revealed that Johnson wants a new Conservative leader to be in place by the party’s autumn conference. He hopes to remain in Downing Street until then.
Dozens of members of Johnson’s government have left their posts, in recent days. Among them are the ministers of finance and education, along with key “Brexit” ally Michael Gove.
On Wednesday Johnson aide James Duddridge told Sky News that the prime minister “will fight on,” refusing to resign despite the mounting pressure to do so. “He has a 14-million mandate and so much to do for the country,” Duddridge said.
Despite surviving a no-confidence vote in Parliament last month, Johnson and his cabinet have been increasingly embroiled in a number of controversies.
In May, an internal inquiry confirmed that government officials had routinely flouted Covid-19 social distancing rules, and several of them, including Johnson himself, were fined.
On Wednesday, Johnson admitted that he made a “bad mistake” by appointing Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip, an official tasked with marshaling government procedures. Pincher resigned from his post late last week following allegations of sexual misconduct.