7 JULY 2022 | NEWS

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced his resignation from the post earlier this afternoon, following a multitude of resignations from Cabinet Ministers over the course of the past two days, with more following this morning.

Boris Johnson announced his resignation from the top job in front of Number 10 Downing Street today. He announced in the speech that the timetable to find his replacement would be announced next week.

It is reported that the new leader will take their position as leader of the Conservative Party and assume the position of Prime Minister by this coming October.

The process will involve the Conservative parliamentary party whittling down the list of candidates to two, who will then run their leadership campaigns over the summer before the final vote is put to party members.

However, there have already been calls for the Prime Minister to stand down while the leadership process takes place, as well as for it to run more quickly. It is understood in Westminster that many Conservative MPs would prefer the process to happen more quickly than the timetable that the Prime Minister has set out, occurring in a matter of weeks rather than months.

It has also been suggested that Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab could take over as a caretaker Prime Minister while such a process continues, although it is not yet clear whether this would bar him from running in the leadership contest himself.

Mr Johnson’s speech saw the Prime Minister attacking what he described as the “herd instinct” in Westminster, which has seen large portions of the Cabinet resigning from their positions in protest against the Prime Minister’s continued leadership over the past week.

Mr Johnson had won a confidence vote in his leadership recently, however this was not enough to relieve the pressure on his tenure as Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has faced criticism over the past week after it emerged that one of his Government Whips, Chris Pincher, had groped two people the Carlton Club. It later emerged that Mr Pincher had faced claims of sexual harassment before. Mr Johnson had appointed Mr Pincher with the knowledge of the allegations against the MP, despite claiming that he did not know of the allegations.

In his speech, Mr Johnson stated that he was proud of his achievements as Prime Minister, which included completing Brexit, ensuring a rapid and successful vaccine rollout to counter the coronavirus pandemic and standing up to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

He said in his speech: ”I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this Government, from getting Brexit done to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century, reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in Parliament, getting us all through the pandemic, delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, the fastest exit from lockdown, and, in the last few months, leading the West in standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.”

He then aimed his ire at those who oversaw his downfall including former members of his Cabinet. He accused members of his party of having a “herd instinct”, which had now forced his resignation.

“At Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful; when the herd moves, it moves.

“And my friends, in politics, no-one is remotely indispensable and our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader, equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times,” Mr Johnson proclaimed in front of the press.

Moving forward, Boris Johnson said that the priority was tax cuts and helping those suffering from the cost-of-living crisis. He said: “Cutting burdens on businesses and families and, yes, cutting taxes, because that is the way to generate the growth and the income we need to pay for our great public services.”

In a message to his replacement and the British public, he said:

“To that new leader, I say – whoever he or she may be – I say: ‘I will give you as much support as I can’.

“To you, the British public, I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few who will also be disappointed.

“I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world.”

On Mr Johnson’s resignation, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It is good news for the country that Boris Johnson has resigned as Prime Minister.

“But it should have happened long ago. He was always unfit for office. He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale.

“And all those who have been complicit should be utterly ashamed.

“The Tory party have inflicted chaos upon the country during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. And they cannot now pretend they are the ones to sort it out.

“They have been in power for 12 years. The damage they have done is profound.”

Starmer has also threatened to call a vote of no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government in the House of Commons if Mr Johnson is not removed very quickly, though it is not immediately clear how Labour and the various Opposition parties – even collectively – could win it.

The Prime Minister’s resignation speech can be watched in full here:

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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