Frustrated with the revolt of ministers and MPs, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, accepted yesterday the inevitability of resigning from the leadership of the Conservative party, remaining in office until a successor is found.
“It is painful not to be able to carry out so many ideas and projects. But, as we saw at Westminster, the herd is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves, and in politics no one is absolutely indispensable,” he said in a speech outside the official residence in Downing Street.
The day before, Johnson had shown himself determined to continue in office, despite having already accumulated about 50 resignations, among ministers, secretaries of state, assistants and advisers.
But early in the morning, seven more casualties raised the number of vacant seats, making evident the difficulty in stemming the bleeding of support, even among its most loyal supporters, and in carrying out a complete refurbishment.
“I gave him, and those around him, the benefit of the doubt. I have defended this government publicly and privately. However, we have reached the point of no return”, summed up Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis in the resignation letter.
Shortly after, Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi, promoted less than two days ago from the Education portfolio to replace Rishi Sunak, acknowledged that the situation “is not sustainable and will only get worse”, asking Johnson to leave.
At 09:00, a spokesperson confirmed that the prime minister was going to deliver a resignation speech, which he did at 12:30.
“It is clearly the Conservative Party’s will that there be a new leader and therefore a new prime minister,” Johnson acknowledged, “saddened to give up the best job in the world.”
The timetable for the succession will be known next week, he said, pledging to remain in office until then, prompting protests.
“There is a general sense of relief that the chaos of the last few days (actually months) will come to an end, although the idea of Boris Johnson remaining prime minister until the fall seems far from ideal and certainly not tenable.” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
George Freeman, who resigned yesterday morning as Secretary of State for Science, suggested an interim head of government “to try to repair the damage and rebuild trust”.
Former British Prime Minister John Major considered that the idea of “remaining in office for up to three months after losing the support of his Cabinet, the Government and his parliamentary party is unwise, and could be unsustainable”.
Also the leader of the Labor Party and the opposition, Keir Starmer, spoke out against Johnson’s stay in office and threatened to present a motion of censure to remove him from power “in the national interest”.
“He needs to go for good. None of this clinging nonsense for a few months. He has been inflicting lies, fraud and chaos on the country,” he argued.
Reactions to Boris Johnson’s resignation were mixed, with Ukraine thanking him for his support in the “hardest moments” of the Russian invasion of the country.
“We all received this news with sadness. Not just me, but the entire Ukrainian society that sympathizes with you very much,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Johnson by phone, according to a statement.
Former European Union (EU) negotiator in the ‘Brexit’ process, Michel Barnier, hopes that “a new page will be opened in relations with the United Kingdom”, which will be “more constructive, more respectful of the commitments made, in particular in the concerning peace and stability in Northern Ireland”.
Johnson’s departure is “an opportunity to get back to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect that we need”, added Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, referring to the differences between Dublin and London over Northern Ireland.
For his part, the President of the United States has already begun to think about the future leader of the country “close friend and ally” of Washington.
“The special relationship between our peoples remains strong and enduring. I look forward to continuing to deepen our cooperation with the British Government,” said Joe Biden in a brief statement.
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