Boris Johnson resigns – but insists he’ll stay as PM for coming months

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022.
Boris Johnson has resigned as Prime Minister. (PA)

Boris Johnson has resigned as prime minister, saying he will remain in the position until a replacement Conservative leader is found.

The PM stepped down after seeing his authority crumble as dozens of ministers quit en masse and a host of previously loyal backbenchers turned against him.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Johnson said it was "clearly the will of the parliamentary Conservative party" for him to step down – but criticised the move to oust him, branding it "eccentric".

Johnson said it was “painful” not to be able to deliver on his plans, blaming the "herd instinct" in Westminster for his downfall, adding: "Them's the breaks."

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would call a vote of no confidence if Johnson tried to cling on, and said the Conservatives should not “inflict” someone they deem to be “unfit” for office on the country.

Watch: Boris Johnson - "I will serve until a new leader is in place"

Johnson's words were met with fury from a number of Tory MPs, enraged that the PM still failed to take responsibility for the collapse of his own government.

Senior Conservative Andrew Bridgen said the party should look to force him from office as soon as possible.

“It [the speech] was just so Johnson”, Bridgen told Yahoo News UK.

“No contrition, no apology, no humility. It wasn’t an apology.

“I think we’re going to have compress the new selection for the leader process so that Boris Johnson remains in No 10 for the shortest possible time.

“I’m relieved, I’m also disappointed it took the rest of the party seven months that I came to the conclusion I came to in January.

“He remains an existential threat to the Conservative party… and I’m concerned that there is time for more scandals the longer he’s there.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022.
Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, in which he said he would remain in Number 10 until a new Tory leader was found. (PA)

Opposition MPs also hit out at the tone of his departure.

Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy tweeted: "Boris Johnson resigned as he led, blaming everyone but himself. His own party say he is unfit to govern.

"Since he won't resign immediately, I will vote with the Labour Party to remove him from power."

Former prime minister Sir John Major said the decision to remain prime minister was “unwise and may be unsustainable”.

Writing to the 1922 Committee, Major said: “For the overall well-being of the country, Mr Johnson should not remain in Downing Street”.

The process to elect a new Conservative leader usually lasts around 12 weeks, with MPs vying for leadership in a similar way to a general election.

Carrie Johnson holding her daughter Romy, with Nadine Dorries, watches Prime Minister Boris Johnson read a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022.
Carrie Johnson holding her daughter Romy, with Nadine Dorries, as Boris Johnson announced he would leave Downing Street. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning as Conservative Party leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022.
Boris Johnson's plan to remain in the post until a new leader is found is already proving divisive. (PA)

Leadership hopefuls would need two nominations from other Tory MPs to run - after which party MPs would hold a ballot to choose the candidates, with those receiving the least votes eliminated until only two remain.

As it’s entirely an internal party matter, a general election is not needed - so the decision of who becomes the leader is down to Conservative party members, who have the final say.

Watch: MP accuses Boris Johnson of 'squatting in number 10'

Dominic Cummings, formerly Johnson’s right-hand man in No 10 but now one of his most fierce critics, said the PM would cause “carnage” if he was allowed to remain in position and suggested Dominic Raab should stand in as a caretaker premier.

Minutes before he appeared for his resignation speech, Johnson made a number of new ministerial appointments.

Johnson bows to the inevitable

Despite planning to carry on, the decisive blow came on Thursday morning at 9am when Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi told him to resign. Health Secretary Michelle Donelan also quit - less than two days after being appointed.

The end of a chaotic Johnson administration - less than three years after he was elected in November 2019 - begun on Tuesday night when Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resigned, sparking a mass exodus of Johnson's top team.

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