LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – After being told by many cabinet members that he had lost the party’s support, Boris Johnson resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and claimed that Tory MPs’ “herd instinct” was to blame for his removal.
Outside Downing Street, Johnson said in a statement that “no one is remotely indispensable” and that leaving No. 10 was the “will of the parliamentary Conservative party.”
He did, however, also make clear that he intended to continue as prime minister until the party chose his replacement, possibly until the fall, which immediately sparked discontent among Tory MPs.
With the announcement, Johnson ends a dramatic standoff with cabinet members, including Nadhim Zahawi, his new chancellor who had been pressing ham to resign in the wake of the Chris Pincher scandal and other controversies.
Johnson, who was joined by his wife Carrie and many Tory supporters, stated it was “eccentric” to change governments at this time and expressed his sadness at leaving the “best job in the world.” He stated, “I regret not having been successful in those arguments.
When the cabinet and MPs moved against him, he remarked, “When the herd moves, it moves,” while praising the “brilliant Darwinian system” that led to his downfall. “Them’s the breaks,” he said. According to the prime minister, he had “appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place”, referring to a sense of obligation and duty to the people.
Ben Wallace, Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Suella Braverman, and Tom Tugendhat among many others are expected to run for prime minister in the months that follow his resignation.
Senior Conservative lawmakers, on the other hand, disagree with the notion that Johnson should continue serving as president and favour the installation of an interim leader, Dominic Raab for example. Labour also threatened to demand a vote on the prime minister’s standing if he didn’t leave No. 10 quickly.
Over 50 ministers and senior officials quit in a rolling walkout, and a number of once-supportive backbenchers announced having no confidence in Johnson’s leadership.
The tone of Johnson’s speech appears to have angered the Tory MPs. The following statements have been heard in response.
- “Revolting No humility, shots fired at the parliamentary party, just sums up we were right.”
- “Ridiculous. No self reflection at all.”
- “An absence of any affection for, or loyalty to, the Conservative party.”