Boris Johnson resigns as British prime minister

Source: : 2022-07-07 11:38:08 : Sean Boynton

Boris Johnson has resigned as Britain’s prime minister Thursday, bringing an end to one of the rockiest tenures for a world leader in modern times after a series of scandals rocked his government’s confidence in him.

His exit marks a remarkable fall from grace for the charismatic Conservative leader, who just two-and-a-half years ago was celebrating an overwhelming election victory and the full backing of his party.

Johnson had already vowed to move forward as prime minister after narrowly surviving a confidence vote last month that was triggered by shifting stories about COVID-19 lockdown-breaking parties in government offices — some of which he attended.

Read more:

British PM Boris Johnson expected to step down amid political fallout

But that stance proved untenable after two of his most senior cabinet ministers quit Tuesday over similarly shiting explanations about his handling of a sexual misconduct scandal that dogged a recent government appointee.

Story continues below advertisement

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other, costing Johnson the support of the men responsible for tackling two of the biggest issues facing Britain — the cost-of-living crisis and surging COVID-19 infections.

Those two were then followed by Solicitor General Alex Chalk, who also joined four parliamentary private secretaries, the Conservative Party’s vice-chair and two trade envoys in abandoning Johnson and resigning.

In their resignation letters, the cabinet officials both said Johnson’s credibility had been shattered by the growing list of scandals, with Chalk adding public confidence in the government under its current leadership had “irretrievably broken down.”

Click to play video: 'Boris Johnson sidesteps questions on calls for resignation after top ministers quit'

Boris Johnson sidesteps questions on calls for resignation after top ministers quit

Boris Johnson sidesteps questions on calls for resignation after top ministers quit

Johnson had proven multiple times to be adept at fighting off criticism and political scandal, dating back to his past roles in Parliament and as the mayor of London.

Story continues below advertisement

He swept into power as Conservative leader in 2019 after the resignation of Theresa May, and proved naysayers wrong that December when his party won the largest majority government since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. He then went on to finalize the country’s exit from the European Union, which had dogged May’s government as well as her predecessor, David Cameron.

But experts and even some Conservative MPs had suggested this week that the wave of cabinet resignations would be too much to bear.

The latest scandal began Thursday, when Chris Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip amid complaints that he groped two men at a private club. That triggered a series of reports about past allegations leveled against Pincher and questions about why Johnson promoted him to a senior job enforcing party discipline.

Pincher denies the allegations.

Johnson’s office initially said he wasn’t aware of the previous accusations when he promoted Pincher in February. By Monday, a spokesman said Johnson knew of allegations that were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint.”

But in a highly unusual move, Simon McDonald, the most senior civil servant at the U.K. Foreign Office from 2015 to 2020, went public with claims that the prime minister’s office wasn’t telling the truth.

McDonald said in a letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards that he received complaints about Pincher’s behavior in the summer of 2019, shortly after Pincher became a Foreign Office minister. An investigation upheld the complaint, and Pincher apologized for his actions, McDonald said.

Story continues below advertisement

“Mr. Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation,” McDonald wrote.

Click to play video: 'British PM British Johnson says he has no intentions of quitting'

British PM British Johnson says he has no intentions of quitting

British PM British Johnson says he has no intentions of quitting

Hours after McDonald’s comments were published, Johnson’s office changed its story again, saying the prime minister had forgotten that Pincher was the subject of an official complaint.

Then minutes before Javid and Sunak announced their resignations, Johnson told reporters that Pincher should have been fired from the government after a previous 2019 incident.

Asked if it was an error to appoint Pincher to the government, Johnson said, “I think it was a mistake, and I apologize for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.”

The shifting explanation from Johnson fueled discontent within the Cabinet after ministers were forced to publicly deliver the prime minister’s denials, only to have the explanation shift the next day.

Story continues below advertisement

Johnson’s authority had already been shaken by last month’s confidence vote. Although he survived, 41 per cent of Conservatives voted to remove him from office. But until Tuesday his Cabinet had largely stayed put and loyal.

Concerns about Johnson’s leadership were fueled by his responses to months of allegations about lockdown-breaking parties in government offices that ultimately resulted in 126 fines, including one levied against Johnson.

Two weeks later, Conservative candidates were badly beaten in two special elections to fill vacant seats in Parliament, adding to the discontent within Johnson’s party and suggesting the ongoing accusations were resonating with the public.

Even before the Pincher scandal, suggestions were swirling that Johnson would soon face another no-confidence vote.

The existing rules require 12 months between such votes, but several Conservative lawmakers had suggested they support changing the rules in an upcoming vote on the issue.

—With files from the Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Read the original article on Here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.