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‘No one is indispensable:’ Boris Johnson quits as Tory leader, paving way for new UK PM

Johnson’s tenure – less than three years – became untenable when scores of ministers jumped ship this week, saying he was no longer fit to be in charge.

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New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down as Conservative Party leader Thursday after most of his government and party colleagues abandoned him this week, unable to defend a deluge of scandals.

Behind a lectern in front of his official residence Thursday afternoon, Johnson said: “In politics, no one is indispensable. But the brilliant Darwinian system will find another leader.”

He also said he would serve as Prime Minister until another leader was in place – this would mean a race for the top party post would soon play out before the Conservative conference in October.

Johnson said: “I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week. And I’ve today appointed a Cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place.”

The beleaguered politician stressed it was “clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader and, therefore, a new prime minister”. He extended this new leader “as much support as I can”.

Johnson said he tried reasoning with his colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments “when we are delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate”.

He regretted his arguments were not successful and that it was painful not to see through many ideas and projects.

He said his argument to stay in power was rejected due to a “herd instinct” at Westminster – the seat of the British government.

He next thanked the British public for “the immense privilege you have given me”. He said the public would be well served until a new prime minister was in place.

“Being prime minister is an education in itself. I have travelled to every part of the UK and I have found so many people possessed of such boundless British originality and so willing to tackle old problems in new ways. Even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden,” he said.

“But them’s the breaks,” Johnson said of the sadness he felt giving up the “best job in the world”.

Johnson swept to power in December 2019 to sort out Britain’s exit from the European Union after years of bickering.

But next year’s pandemic kicked off a series of events that would ultimately lead to his resignation. Apart from trying to cover up sex scandals of his lawmakers, a damning report on “Covid parties” made him very unpopular with the public and party colleagues.

The report said these parties — some at Downing Street — broke the strict lockdown rules, saw too much alcohol consumption, and even vomiting. Johnson himself was fined for attending one.

He also had to apologise to the Queen after it became clear that his staff partied at Downing Street on the eve of her husband’s funeral in April, 2021.

A series of missteps precipitated into full-blown angst this week when lawmaker Chris Pincher was forced to quit over accusations that he groped men in a private club. Though aware of Pinch’s history of sexual misconduct, Johnson had appointed him to an important post this February.

In the last two days, nearly 50 ministers – including newly appointed ones – resigned, clamouring for Johnson’s head.

Also read: Huge blow for UK PM Boris Johnson as Rishi Sunak & Sajid Javid resign as ministers


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