Boris Johnson resigns as Tory leader

By Oleen Ndori

Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as the Conservative Party leader after losing the support of his ministers and Members of Parliament in the past 24 hours.

Johnson’s premiership was hanging by a thread after more than 50 members of the British government left their posts.

Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader at 10 Downing Street this afternoon.

“In the last few days, I have tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much, and when we have such a vast mandate, and when we’re actually only a handful of points behind in the polls, even in midterm after quite a few months of pretty relentless sledging, and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally. I regret not to have been successful in those arguments and of course it is painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself,” Johnson said.

He added that the resignation is clearly the will of the Conservative Party which wants a new leader and a new prime minister.

The timetable for the Tory leadership race will be announced next week after three turbulent years in office defined by Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and non-stop controversy over Johnson’s reputation for dishonesty.

The leadership election will take place over the European summer and the victor will replace Johnson at the party’s annual conference in early October.

Johnson’s resignation has been well-received across the United Kingdom.

Johnson’s tenure has been riddled with scandals, including the illegal adjournment of Parliament at the height of the Brexit debate, the Downing Street flat refurbishment, the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal of 2021, Party gate and the latest sexual misconduct scandal of former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher, which drove most government officials to resign and call for his resignation.

Front runners to take over from Boris Johnson include Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer; British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Former UK health secretary Sajid Javid and British Defence Minister Ben Wallace.

Questions have arisen as to what happens now that Boris Johnson has resigned:

Does Johnson resignation trigger a general election?

  • No. The Conservative party begins the process for choosing a new leader of the party. UK prime ministers are not directly elected by the people but lead the largest party in the House of Commons and because the Conservatives are still the largest party, the new head of the party will become prime minister.

How will government function?

  • The new cabinet is now in place; however government whips are having discussions on how to get current legislation through Parliament with so few junior ministers remaining.

How is the new Conservative Party leader chosen?

  • Leadership candidates need the support of at least eight lawmakers. If there are more than two candidates, Conservative party lawmakers hold round after round of votes to whittle the number of leadership candidates down to two. Then Conservative party members’ nationwide vote — by mail — between the two finalists. The winner becomes leader of the party and prime minister.

When Johnson does finally leave Downing Street, what happens?

  • He submits his resignation to the Queen, in person. The Palace will announce officially that Queen Elizabeth II has accepted Johnson’s resignation, and will say who she has invited to become prime minister to replace him. That person will then go to meet the Queen to accept the invitation.

Does the new prime minister have to call a general election?

  • No. The United Kingdom isn’t scheduled to have another general election until December 2024. The new prime minister could choose to ask Parliament to vote for an early election, but isn’t required to do so.