Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will resign as Conservative party leader but stay on as prime minister until a new leader is in place.
The announcement Thursday came after several of his Cabinet ministers and more than 40 junior ministers and ministerial aides resigned their posts amid calls for Johnson to step down.
As late as Wednesday Johnson had been defiant, vowing to stay in office after his government faced several ethics scandals.
Johnson faced a round of tough questions from angry and skeptical lawmakers during the traditional prime minister’s question and answer session in Parliament Wednesday, a day after Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid unexpectedly quit within minutes of each other.
The two men resigned after Johnson apologized for appointing conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher to a key party post despite allegations Pincher groped two men at a private club in London while intoxicated.
Officials at No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence, initially said Johnson did not know about the allegations surrounding Pincher, but later acknowledged he had been told about previous accusations against the lawmaker in 2019.
In his resignation letter, Sunak wrote that the British public “rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I believe these standards are worth fighting for, and that is why I am resigning.”
Johnson immediately replaced Sunak and Javid with other members from his Cabinet. But another Cabinet official, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart added his resignation late Wednesday, saying it was past the point where it is possible to “turn the ship around.”
The latest scandal comes just weeks after Johnson survived a no-confidence vote within his Conservative Party after he received a police fine for violating his own COVID-19 lockdown rules by holding parties at 10 Downing Street.
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