British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday, bringing an end to an administration plagued by scandal and controversy.
The announcement came after several members of his cabinet left office and called for him to resign after he mishandled the political appointment of a man previously accused of unwanted sexual advances, the New York Times reports.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader,” Johnson said, standing outside of 10 Downing Street. “The process of choosing that new leader begins now.”
The pressure on Johnson intensified Tuesday when Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned Tuesday. A tsunami of resignations followed, with as many as 50 members of the administration leaving.
The most recent scandal involved Chris Pincher, whom Johnson had chosen to serve as Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Commons. Pincher got drunk and allegedly groped two men at a party. In the aftermath, previous allegations of groping by Pincher came to light. Johnson initially denied that he knew about the earlier allegations, but sources revealed that Johnson had been briefed about them prior to promoting Pincher. He admitted that installing Pincher in the position was a mistake.
In his resignation, Sunak said, “The public rightly expect the government to be conducted properly, competently, and seriously. I recognize this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for, and that is why I am resigning.” Javid echoed Sunak’s sentiments, adding, “At some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough. I believe that point is now.”
Johnson also came under intense scrutiny after a scandal dubbed “Partygate” by his critics. While much of Britain was under strict lockdown and social distancing guidelines, Johnson attended a string of “boozy” parties on Downing Street. In April, police fined him for attending a birthday party while the rest of the country was locked down, making him the first British Prime Minister found to have broken the law while in office.
He survived a no-confidence vote in June. However, 40 percent of Conservatives voted against him.
Johnson had previously spoken of his desire to serve in office until the 2030s, but the scandals and a host of problems at home prevented it. The pound is at its weakest point in years. Inflation has risen to nine percent, which is the highest mark since the early 1980s.
Conservative leaders will meet soon to narrow down a list of contenders for the party leader who will serve as Prime Minister. Then, the 150,000 paid members of the party will vote on the winner. Sunak and Javid are candidates to replace their former boss, along with attorney general Suella Braverman, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Hunt, and Nadhim Zahawi, who served at the Exchequer briefly.
Johnson said he will appoint a new cabinet to serve until the next Conservative leader is chosen.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Anthony Devlin/Stringer
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”