Boris Johnson to resign as UK PM after deluge of ministerial resignations: UK media

He almost lasted three years.

Tan Min-Wei | July 07, 2022, 05:31 PM

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The prime minister (PM) of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, will resign on July 7 , the BBC and other UK media reported.

Plagued by scandal in brief premiership

Johnson, who has been PM since July 24, 2019, has endured a brief but tumultuous reign as leader.

According to the BBC, Johnson will resign as leader of the Conservative party later on July 7, but will remain PM until his party elects a new leader in autumn, likely by the Conservative party conference in October.

This will make his premiership one of the shortest over the past fifty years.

Support for Johnson was initially strong when he took office from Theresa May, he managed to secure an outright majority of over 80 seats in parliament in December 2019 on the promise that he would “get Brexit done”.

This was the strongest majority enjoyed by a British PM in a decade.

But scandal after scandal has plagued his term in office.

The ongoing fallout of "Partygate" centres around Johnson and other government officials who held parties while the country was going through harsh lockdowns, and then lied about whether he knew and attended the parties.

This led to him being fined, an offence that many considered serious enough for him to resign.

Johnson faced a vote of no confidence in June over Partygate, which he survived by a margin of 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

May faced a similar vote and received the backing of 70 per cent of her party, but her government still fell six months later.

Johnson has suffered a similar fate, but in a far shorter timeframe.

The latest scandal relates to the Conservative Party’s deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher, who is accused of drunkenly groping two people.

Johnson was briefed by government officials of a previous incident of Pincher’s misconduct, but Johnson chose to ignore them.

When Pincher’s recent breach was revealed, Johnson then lied about what he knew and when he knew it, prompting a former senior civil servant to take the highly unprecedented move of refuting him publicly.

In both the Pincher affair and Partygate, Johnson’s government would send cabinet ministers to defend the prime minister, only for them to be refuted when Johnson was forced to eventually recant when the truth was discovered.

This latest sequence appears to have been too much for his colleagues to endure.

Will Quince, Minister for Children and Families bore the brunt of the questioning in the day before Johnson would eventually admit that he knew more about the Pincher affair than he let on.

Quince has now resigned.

The deluge - at least 27 ministerial resignations

At around 2am on July 6 (Singapore time), just after 7pm on July 5, UK time, the second most senior member of Johnson’s government, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, resigned.

He was followed mere minutes later by his predecessor in the role, and Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid.

Within six hours, four parliamentary private secretaries followed them.

Johnson appeared to have stemmed the bleeding overnight, hastily finding replacements for the two men.

But as the sun rose on July 6 in the UK, the deluge began.

According to the BBC, by the time Johnson signaled his intention to resign, 22 ministers had quit. Of the more senior Secretaries of State, 3 more joined Sunak and Javid; Welsh Secretary Simon Heart, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, and Education Secretary Michelle Donelan.

18 more parliamentary private secretaries have followed them, for a total of 22, as well as five other MPs linked to the government, such as the Conservative Youth Vice Chair Bim Afolami.

Meanwhile, at the same time, several British journalists were reporting that the senior members of government, including the newly appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, have been gathering at 10 Downing Street, calling on Johnson to resign.

Zahawi would later issue issue a letter calling on Johnson to resign on the morning of July 7. Zahawi has been in his post for less than 2 days.

According to a report by The Daily Mail, the Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove began the less formal process of ousting the prime minister.

He appears to have been the first minister to pressure Johnson to resign without himself leaving government.

For this he was sacked on the evening of July 6. Fellow MP Tim Loughton described the incident as Gove going to Johnson with a metaphorical "bottle of whiskey and revolver", to which Johnson "downed the whiskey and turned the revolver on Gove".

The sinking ships fleeing the rat

Johnson for his part had doggedly declared that he would continue on.

He faced a House of Commons Liaison Committee, made up of the Chairs of the Commons Select Committees, who questioned the prime minister about policy.

But much time was spent questioning if Johnson would survive the day, let alone the week.

Johnson said he was having a "terrific" week, while a committee member inquired as to whether he had been told to quit by Gove.

He had earlier faced Prime Minister’s Questions on July 6, with the leader of the opposition, Labour's Sir Keir Starmer saying that Johnson was backed only by a "z list cast of nodding dogs" who did not have a "shred of integrity".

Starmer said the situation was the first time in recorded history of "the sinking ships fleeing the rat".

As Javid finished reading out his personal statement, in which he said he has "concluded that the problem starts at the top and that is not going to change", he also said he feared for how the next generation would see the Conservative Party and that they had lost the public's trust.

But as he finished, Johnson tried to leave the chamber as quickly as he could. But it wasn't fast enough, as members of parliament yelled out "Bye Bye Boris" as he fled the room.

The Conservative party will now hold a contest for a new leader that will last months, and will have to try to repair public trust while doing so. Previous leadership contests were hotly contested, but if the party can unite behind anything, it appears to be that Boris Johnson's time is over.

Top image by Peter Summers/Getty Images