Boris Johnson resigned as the prime minister of the United Kingdom on Thursday. The move came after a wave of resignations from his cabinet ministers, following a series of scandals, including former senior lawmaker Chris Pincher’s sexual misconduct.
Expressing his regret in his last address as the UK PM, Johnson said that he is not happy to leave the “best job in the world”. He further notified that he would remain at the top job until a new candidate is appointed in his stead, stating that he will extend all his support to the new PM who will continue to cut the burden on families and businesses.
Johnson further said in his speech outside 10 Downing Street: “It is painful not to see my term through… the herd instinct is powerful and that no one is indispensable in politics.”
How Did The Crisis Unfold?
The political turmoil within the Boris Johnson-led, scandal-hit government began earlier this week, on Tuesday, soon after top cabinet ministers like the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced their resignation over the appointment of Conservative MP Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.
The UK PM was further shocked when one of his key allies, Priti Patel decided to follow her colleagues, in protest against Boris Johnson. Quitting as UK Home Secretary, Patel also urged her boss to leave the top job.
Amid the slew of resignations, Boris Johnson encountered further embarrassment when the new finance minister replacing Sunak – Nadhim Zahawi – resigned from his post within 24 hours, and also urged the UK PM to quit. Johnson had earlier said that he will not resign despite mass resignations from his cabinet.
Zahawi said that this is not a sustainable government, and that things will get worse if Boris Johnson remains in power. “For you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly of all the country, you must do the right thing and go now,” Zahawi said in his tweet, after more than 50 ministers quit.
All the MPs and loyalists of Boris Johnson expressed their extreme indignation for not acting against Chris Pincher, and for backing him despite knowing the allegations against him.
What Is The Chris Pincher Scandal?
Chris Pincher, who is one of the top aides of Boris Johnson, resigned on June 29 following the charges of sexual harassment of two men at a private party in London. The 52-year-old MP was accused of groping the men in a club. Following the allegations, Pincher apologised for his actions, and said that he had “drunk far too much”.
The crisis within the UK government unfolded when Boris Johnson himself admitted in an interview with the BBC that he was aware of the sexual misconduct charges against the Conservative lawmaker, and that he had made a “bad mistake” in appointing him as deputy chief whip in February this year. This part of the interview led to a flood of resignations in the UK cabinet.
British media claims that Chris Pincher is a serial offender who often comes into the limelight for his wrongdoings. In November 2017, Pincher resigned from the Whips’ Office after Tory activist Alex Story accused him of making unwanted passes. Pincher denied the allegations, and a party investigation later cleared him of wrongdoing.
London’s Metropolitan Police force had fined the British PM and his key aides in April this year, for conducting a party at his official residence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boris Johnson was slammed by opposition parties after media reports claimed that he broke the COVID rules when the entire country was dealing with the pandemic, and millions in Britain were barred from meeting with friends and family in order to curb the virus.
The partygate scandal had angered many people in Britain and seen dozens of politicians and officials investigated over allegations that the government flouted the pandemic restrictions it put in place.
Johnson had earlier denied any wrongdoing during COVID restrictions, but the police investigation found that he himself conducted several birthday parties and celebrations at 10 Downing Street.
As Boris Johnson conveyed, he will remain in power as the interim UK PM until the Tory party finds a new candidate for the top job. According to the media reports, a timetable for Johnson’s replacement will be announced next week.
It cannot be said with certainty who will replace Johnson. Media reports suggest that UK Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss is the frontrunner for the job. Truss played a big role in imposing sanctions against Russian oligarchs amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Apart from Truss, there are several Conservative leaders such as Jeremy Hunt, Indian origin Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi, and Sajid Javid who could be considered.
According to the BBC, the leadership election will take place over the summer and the victor will replace Johnson by the party’s annual conference in early October.