Boris Johnson is set to announce his resignation as British Prime Minister on Thursday (today), a government source said, after he was abandoned by ministers and his Conservative Party’s lawmakers saying he was no longer fit to govern.
With eight ministers, among them two secretaries of state, stepping down in the last two hours, an isolated and powerless Johnson was set to bow to the inevitable and declare he was resigning later.
His office at the Downing Street office confirmed that Johnson was set for a public statement to the country later.
Following days of battling for his job, Johnson had been abandoned by all but a handful of allies after the latest in a string of scandals broke their willingness to hold his hand.
“His resignation was inevitable,” Justin Tomlinson, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, said on Twitter. “As a party we must quickly unite and focus on what matters. These are serious times on many fronts.”
With the looming move, the Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take some two months.
In a sign of his evaporating support over one of the most turbulent 24 hours in recent British political history, Johnson’s finance minister, Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed to his post on Tuesday, had called on his boss to resign.
“This is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly of all the country,” he said on Twitter. “You must do the right thing and go now.”
A number of those that remained in post, including defence minister Ben Wallace, said they were only doing so as they had an obligation to keep the country safe.
There had been too many ministerial resignations that the government was facing paralysis.
PM Johnson came to power nearly three years ago, promising to deliver Britain’s departure from the European Union and rescue it from the bitter wrangling that followed the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Since then, some Conservatives had enthusiastically backed the former journalist and London mayor while others, despite reservations, supported him because he was able to appeal to parts of the electorate that usually rejected their party.
That was borne out in the December 2019 election. But his administration’s combative and often chaotic approach to governing and a series of scandals have sucked out the goodwill of many of his legislators while opinion polls show he is no longer popular with the public at large.
The recent crisis erupted after lawmaker Chris Pincher, who held a government role involved in pastoral care, was forced to quit following accusations that he groped men in a private member’s club.
Johnson had to apologise after it emerged that he was briefed that Pincher had been the subject of previous sexual misconduct complaints before he appointed him. The prime minister said it had escaped his mind.
The move came after months of scandals and missteps, including a damning report into boozy parties at his Downing Street residence and office that flaunted the strict COVID-19 lockdown rules and saw him fined by police over a gathering for his 56th birthday.
As if not enough, there have also been policy U-turns, an ill-fated defence of a lawmaker who broke lobbying rules, and criticism that he has not done enough to tackle inflation, with many Britons struggling to cope with rising fuel and food prices.