UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday as 59 members of Parliament resigned in protest. Johnson will continue to serve until a new leader is selected to replace him.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader… and therefore a new prime minister,” Johnson said publicly on Thursday.
“The herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves,” he added of the mass resignations.
Johnson’s resignation comes amid a wave of scandals, with the latest being the appointment of Conservative MP Chris Pincher – who later resigned – despite sexual misconduct allegations that Johnson said he “forgot” about. Johnson also faced backlash for illegally attending numerous social gatherings during strict COVID-19 lockdowns.
His approval rating in late June was a dismal 26 percent. A YouGov poll in June found that 3 in 4 British citizens considered Johnson untrustworthy. Another YouGov poll this week found that 69 percent of British citizens thought Johnson should resign.
Johnson had resisted calls for his resignation as recent as Wednesday. He said he was resistant because he “felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019.”
So many government ministers had resigned by Wednesday that nearly half the government was unstaffed.
Savid Javid, who resigned as health secretary on Wednesday, said during his resignation speech that “Treading a tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months. Now this week, again, we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we’ve all been told. And at some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough.”
During an intense grilling by Parliament members in a House of Commons meeting on Wednesday, Johnson was criticized and urged to step down.
Johnson had served since 2019 when he led the Conservative Party to victory – its biggest in decades. He vowed to finally separate Britain from the EU, a move that his predecessor Theresa May had failed to do.
Johnson had reportedly planned to continue serving as prime minister until October, but was pressed to announce his resignation immediately.
An election for a new Conservative Party leader will need to take place, in which candidates secure the support of at least eight Conservative members to qualify, the BBC explained. Some of Johnson’s critics have urged him to leave office before a successor is chosen