‘I’m here to see justice done’: The COVID bereaved families who witnessed the fall of Boris Johnson

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·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
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Hundreds of protesters gathered in Whitehall on Thursday. (Nadine Batchelor-Hunt/Yahoo News UK)

Following a week that saw his government crumble around him, a Tory Party in full-scale revolt, and his authority shredded to bits, Boris Johnson stepped up to the lectern outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday to announce his resignation.

In an unapologetic statement, Johnson said he had fought to stay on because his “duty” to the “millions of people who voted for us” in 2019 when he won a landslide general election victory.

With a smile on his face, the PM couldn't resist a swipe at the plot to oust him, calling the move "eccentric" and claiming to be a victim of Westminster's "herd mentality".

As he spoke, a throng of protesters with a variety of grievances gathered outside the gates to watch his demise.

Read more: Boris Johnson resignation speech in full

Some were angry with prime minister's decision to make a man with a history of sexual assault a minister, others frustrated with his management of the Owen Paterson affair.

And there were those brought to Downing Street by their despair at being separated from dying loved ones during lockdown while parties were held in No 10.

Among them - in the middle of the road at a pedestrian crossing, sitting on a blanket - were four members of the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

Lorna, 42 from Southampton, said she had travelled to Westminster on Thursday as soon as she found out Johnson was likely to resign.

People gather in front of a gate as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (not pictured) makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
Protesters could be heard shouting at the prime minister outside Downing Street's gates as he made his resignation speech. (Reuters)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Boris Johnson resigned on Thursday afternoon after his government collapsed. (Reuters)

"I lost my dad and my stepdad to COVID," said Lorna.

"And I think Boris resigning is a long time coming.

"He should have had some dignity and integrity, and resigned a long time ago. I kind of feel a little vindicated."

Sue, 57, from Fulham, who was sitting next to Lorna, said she lost her father to COVID, too.

"I've come to see justice take place, especially for my father," said Sue.

Read more: Boris Johnson sparks fears of more scandals amid calls for him to stand down now

She criticised Johnson for attempting to stay in Number 10 until a Tory leadership contest is over, which could be as late as October.

"He's just carrying on, he's just clawing on.

It just shows... his true colours, really.

"It's all about him. Not about politics, not about the party. It's all about himself."

Tiffany, 42 from Winchester, said she lost her father to COVID, too - and described Johnson as a "vile human being", saying he had "cheated the country".

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Lorna, Sue, Tiffany, and Charles travelled to London to watch Boris Johnson resign. (Nadine Batchelor-Hunt/Yahoo News UK)

"The night the prime minister had his Christmas party my dad was dying in hospital," said Tiffany, holding a picture of her father.

"I held him in my arms as he took his last breath."

She went on: "He doesn't deserve the office that he holds. He never deserved it. And he should have gone a long, long time ago. The guy is reprehensible

"So I'm here today to see justice done, and say: 'Goodbye, Boris'."

Charles, 57, said he lost his mother and wife to COVID within six weeks of each other.

"This man's not accepted any accountability for his role in the pandemic. From day one he was clearly dishonourable... no integrity whatsoever.

"He's taken the country for fools... an honourable man would have been gone months ago."

Read more: Martin Lewis: UK needs ‘new leaders in office asap’ ahead of ‘catastrophic’ winter

It is uncertain when Johnson will finally depart Downing Street after he announced his intention to stay until a successor had been appointed.

If the process of the Tory leadership contest is sped up, the prime minister could be gone within weeks. If not, it could be months.

The contest to be his successor is wide open, with backbencher Tom Tugenhadt and cabinet minister Suella Braverman among those launching leadership bids this week.

Watch: Boris Johnson’s new cabinet arrive at Number 10

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