UK set for fourth prime minister since 2016 after Johnson resigns

The Prime Minister announced he would be resigning in an address in Downing Street.

UK set for fourth prime minister since 2016 after Johnson resigns Supplied

The UK will have its fourth prime minister in just over six years after Boris Johnson announced that he would be resigning.

In a statement outside No 10 Downing Street on Thursday, Johnson confirmed he would be leaving following a flood of resignations.

His departure marks the culmination of his final months in office that have been marked by scandal.

Ever since a leaked video of former press secretary Allegra Stratton joking with aides about a festive gathering, partygate has dogged the Prime Minister.

Public anger was palpable as further revelations steadily emerged, revealing that illegal gatherings had taken place in Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opposition politicians called for him to go after he was fined, along with Rishi Sunak, for breaking their own pandemic rules.

And a growing number of his own Conservative colleagues also increasingly urged the Prime Minister to quit.

But, even when the scandal came to a head and he faced a confidence vote, Johnson survived – winning the backing of 59% of his party’s MPs.

Yet almost a month to the day, Johnson said that he would be would be resigning.

The final straw for Conservative MPs came as they lost patience with what they saw as instructions from No 10 to relay false information to the media.

It was sparked by the resignation of the party’s deputy chief whip Chris Pincher after allegations that he groped two men at a private member’s club in London.

This week, Lord McDonald – a top senior civil servant in the Foreign Office – stated that No 10 were not telling the truth about what Johnson knew and when about Pincher.

Downing Street had previously denied that Johnson knew about the allegations against Pincher.

But, days later, it was confirmed that the Prime Minister had in fact been briefed about Pincher’s conduct in late 2019, with a formal complaint having been made.

The beginning of the end for Johnson this week was the resignations of Sajid Javid as health secretary and Rishi Sunak as chancellor.

Two key figures in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, it appeared to be a terminal blow to his premiership.

In the space of just two days, there were more than 50 resignations following Javid and Sunak, as MPs finally had enough of Johnson.

Even amongst his most ardent supporters, there was an acceptance that it was the end of the road for the Prime Minister.

And so it was on Thursday afternoon that Johnson, reluctantly, acknowledged that the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party is that there should be a new leader.

In his address to the country, Johnson announced that he would continue in post until a new leader is elected.

The timetable for choosing a new prime minister is also set to be announced next week.

With the end of Johnson’s time in office, the firing gun sounds in the party leadership contest.

A long list of contenders will vie for the position – defence secretary Ben Wallace has emerged as an early favourite amongst party members.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss cut short an official trip to Indonesia amidst speculation that she will bid to become leader of the Conservatives.

And Sunak and Javid, the two who kicked off the cascade of resignations, could well have their eyes on the top job themselves.

Familiar faces from the last leadership contest in 2019 – Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab – are also likely to be in the mix.

Attorney general Suella Braverman has also already indicated that she is in the mix, whilst newly-appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi is reported to have eyed a leadership bid for several months.

Whatever the outcome of the leadership race, the next prime minister will come into the job with a long to-do list.

A cost of living crisis, recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the prospect of a Scottish independence referendum all lie ahead.

The job will certainly be a busy one.

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