The Prime Minister has bowed to ministerial pressure to resign as Tory leader, but he intends to stay in No. 10 until the party decides who will succeed him. As a result of the revolt, some senior Conservatives have urged him to resign immediately.
He did, however, reassure ministers that he would delegate major policy decisions to his successor. A date for a Tory leadership election will be announced next week, but potential candidates are already vying for the position.
There is no timetable for such a contest, but a new leader, who will also be prime minister, is expected to be chosen by the autumn. So far, only Attorney General Suella Braverman has declared her intention to run, and Steve Baker has stated that he is “seriously” considering running.
More candidates are expected to join them in the coming days, though deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has ruled himself out. Michael Gove, who was fired as levelling up secretary after urging Mr. Johnson to resign, will not run as well.
Sajid Javid, whose resignation as health secretary triggered the wave of resignations that forced Mr. Johnson to resign, is seriously considering running for president, according to the BBC.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was among the rebel cabinet ministers who demanded Mr. Johnson resign, is also seriously considering a run. If Mr. Johnson does not resign immediately, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says his party will table a vote of no confidence in the government in Parliament.
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major is among those who believe Mr Johnson should resign as Prime Minister immediately, arguing that it would be “unwise” for him to stay until he is replaced.
Sir John has suggested to party leaders that the leadership election be accelerated, or that deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab take over as caretaker PM. Mr. Johnson told ministers earlier in the day that they were “obliged to deliver on what we have already agreed,” and that it was “not for me to do a major change of direction” during his remaining time in Downing Street.
“I don’t expect you to be browbeaten by No 10 into doing radical or unusual new policies,” he said, adding that there was “no excuse to take your foot off the pedal.”
Mr. Johnson joked that the team around the table, which included several new faces to fill positions left vacant by recent resignations, was his “best cabinet ever.” According to Downing Street, he also stated that “major fiscal decisions” should be left to the next prime minister.
A major economic speech by Mr. Johnson and his chancellor next week, in which they were to outline their approach to rising living costs, has been canceled. “It’s painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself,” Johnson says in the media caption.
Mr. Johnson’s resignation came after a ministerial revolt over his leadership, sparked by his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher.
However, his leadership had been dogged by controversy in recent months, including the Partygate scandal and a fine for violating his own lockdown laws. Mr. Johnson said in his resignation speech in Downing Street that he fought to stay on as Prime Minister because of his “obligation” to deliver on his “incredible mandate” from the 2019 general election.
“I regret not having been successful in those arguments,” he said, but he acknowledged that his party’s will was “clear.”
“No one is remotely indispensable in politics,” he said, adding, “I want you to know how sad I am to be leaving the best job in the world, but those are the breaks.” Among his accomplishments in office, he cites the UK’s exit from the EU and the government’s Covid vaccine program.
“We in the UK will continue to support your fight for freedom for as long as it takes,” he said to the Ukrainian people.
Mr. Johnson has also spoken to President Zelensky of Ukraine, reassuring him his successor would remain as committed to Ukraine as he said he had been. Both leaders described each other as “heroes.”