Scandal-ridden British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today formally announced his resignation as leader of the British Conservative Party, a majority force in Parliament, in a speech to the nation.
The premier – ultimately overwhelmed by the repercussions of the latest scandals and a flurry of resignations within his team – still intends to remain head of the government until the election of a successor at the helm of the Tories scheduled for October, given the times imposed by the withdrawal summer parliamentarian starting in two weeks.
“I’m leaving, but I didn’t want to,” Johnson said, announcing his resignation as Tory leader to the nation.
“When the flock moves – he added – everyone unites. No one is indispensable: our Darwinian system will be able to find a new leader to whom I will give all my support”. Johnson thanked the British people, recalling the consensus received in the 2019 election with the largest majority assigned to the Conservative Party under his leadership since 1987 and the largest percentage of votes since 1978. A colossal mandate in his words, which he pushed – he justified himself – to try to remain prime minister until the very end, considering it “an obligation”. Having said this, he reiterated that “in politics, no one is remotely indispensable”.
Johnson said he was “immensely proud” to have completed Brexit in his three years as head of government, announcing his resignation as Tory leader to the nation today, the first step towards exiting Downing Street.
Johnson also claimed among his merits that of having brought the country out of Covid restrictions as the first in Europe and brought home a year of economic growth and the absolute record of employment in the Kingdom. However, he admitted that most of the Conservative Party now wants another leader and that the process to elect the leader will begin tomorrow. He then admitted that some would be “happy” to say goodbye to him, insisting nevertheless to be proud, albeit regretting the impossibility of completing other major projects in the program.
In the morning, the head of the department for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, resigned, saying the government hit by the scandal is now “beyond the point of no return”. He said he could not sacrifice his personal integrity to defend things “as they are now,” said Lewis, adding that the ruling Conservative party and the country “deserve better.”
Yesterday some of Johnson’s ministers resigned over the Pincher scandal. At least half a dozen ministers remained loyal to Boris Johnson in the cabinet council. But a group of about 30 members also asked him to resign. It included, according to the BBC, the chief Tory whip in the House of Commons, Chris Heaton-Harris.
Russia reacted enthusiastically
Russia welcomed the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with delight and derision today. The deputy chairman of Russia’s National Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, wrote on Telegram that Ukraine’s “best friends” were leaving and noted: “Victory” is in danger!” He added that Johnson’s resignation was a “legitimate result from British insolence and dirty politics. Especially at the international level”.
The British prime minister is one of the most ardent supporters of the Ukrainian government in its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion.
Medvedev also wrote that Ukraine could be abandoned by more allies. “We are waiting for news from Germany, Poland and the Baltic states,” he wrote. However, the governments in these states are not in immediate danger of falling.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the Interfax news agency, said that “as for Mr. Johnson, we don’t like him. And we don’t like him.” Peskov also said he hoped “more professional people” would come to power in Britain – those who also understood the need for dialogue. “But at the moment, this hardly seems likely,” added Peskov.
How will a new British Prime Minister be determined after Johnson’s resignation?
The search for a new prime minister began in the Conservative party. Two other Conservative MPs must nominate the candidates. Then the MPs from the Conservative Party hold a series of votes to sift through the candidates. The parliamentarians are asked to vote secretly for the candidate they support, and the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The procedure is repeated until two candidates remain. So far, voting has been held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For the final two candidates, the wider membership of the Conservative Party votes by post, and the winner becomes the new party leader. The leader of the party with the majority in the House of Commons is the de facto prime minister. He or she is not required to call a snap election but has the power to do so.
How long the process takes?
The duration of the leadership race may vary depending on the number of candidates. Theresa May became leader less than three weeks after David Cameron resigned in 2016, with all other candidates dropping out midway through the race. Johnson faced off against former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in a vote among party members to replace May in 2019. Johnson took office two months after May announced her intention to leave.