It took a mass walk-out from high-ranking government officials in the UK to finally push Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson into announcing his resignation today as leader of the Conservative Party.
“No one in politics is remotely indispensable,” Johnson said in his resignation speech, according to Sky News. He said he’d only held on to his position for so long because he thought it was his “job, duty and obligation” to voters. His critics will note it’s more likely because he was used to getting away with breaking the rules for so long.
Johnson indicated that he would stay on as prime minister until October, when a new Tory leader is elected. But this announcement has unleashed an outcry from his critics – including former PM John Major – who want to see him gone yesterday.
Johnson, who has led the Conservative (Tory) party since 2019, has weathered one scandal after another. Most notablenotably was “Partygate” – birthday celebrations at the PM’s 10 Downing Street residence in the middle of the strictest lockdowns in the UK in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the straw that appeared to have broken the camel’s back was when news emerged that Johnson was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against former Deputy Chief Whip, Chris Pincher, when he appointed him to the position.
Johnson clung on to power as more than 50 officials, from cabinet ministers to trade envoys, resigned over just three days this week in protest.
Even Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom, Larry the cat, had had enough. 😸 The parody account of the 15-year-old tabby at 10 Downing Street (the account has 561,000 followers), tweeted: “I can no longer, in good conscience, live with this prime minister. Either he goes, or I do.”
Johnson rose to power after Brexit. But once that (easy populism) was achieved, his critics said there was a lack of focus and one scandal after the next.
As The Guardian wrote in a scathing editorial: “The real spurs to action were fear of public wrath and exasperation that Britain did not have a functioning government while Downing Street was focused exclusively on evasive manoeuvres to get the prime minister through each day of cascading crises.”
Johnson’s replacement is set to be appointed at the Tory party conference in October. Conservative leaders have been in charge since 2010, following Gordon Brown’s three years in office as the last Labour Party leader. The next election is only in 2025, but Britain’s politics may be well be shaken up by then.