British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned on Thursday after his government was rocked by a series of resignations over the last two days.
Speaking in front of No. 10, Johnson said the timetable for the leadership contest will be announced next week.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party, that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister, and 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,” Johnson said.
Announcing that he will remain in the office until the new leader is in place, Johnson said he is appointing new Cabinet members today.
He said that millions of people voted for the party in 2019 and thanked “for that incredible mandate, the biggest conservative majority since 1987.”
“And the reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so because I felt it was my job,” he added.
Johnson said he is “immensely proud of the achievements of this government from getting Brexit done to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century and reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in parliament, getting us all through the pandemic, delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, the fastest exit from lockdown, and in the last few months, leading the West in standing up to Putin's aggression in Ukraine.”
He reiterated the UK’s support for Ukraine, saying that his country “will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes.”
Johnson said he has tried to “persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we're delivering so much.”
“I regret not to have been successful in those arguments, and of course, it's painful, and not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself,” Johnson said.
He said: “But as we've seen, at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves. And my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable. Our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader, equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times.”
Johnson’s resignation came after 59 politicians stepped down from his government within the past 48 hours.
He had to resign following a series of resignations on Thursday morning, despite his office last night saying Johnson is remaining "absolutely defiant" and "does not intend to resign."
The dozens of resignations came after the scandal over Johnson’s appointment of MP Chris Pincher as the party’s deputy chief whip, who was disgraced after being accused of drunkenly groping two men.
Downing Street initially said that Johnson was unaware of previous specific allegations against Pincher, but it later emerged that he was in fact informed when he was foreign minister in 2019 of previous instances of alleged misconduct on Pincher’s part.
Just before the resignations, Johnson had apologized for appointing Pincher as the deputy chief whip.
Johnson had been under fire because of the lockdown parties held at No. 10, for which he was fined by the Metropolitan Police.
He had managed to survive a confidence vote last month as at least 15% of Tory MPs sent letters to trigger the vote to the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee.
Johnson had become the new Conservative leader instead of Theresa May in July 2019, after finishing the leadership race on top.