Cornered, Boris Johnson resigns himself to throwing in the towel

Cornered, Boris Johnson resigns himself to throwing in the towel

Faced with a series of defections, he left the head of the Conservative Party on Thursday, but intends to remain Prime Minister until the appointment of his successor.

Boris Johnson is capable of anything, even the seemingly unthinkable: resigning. The pressure, it is true, had become unheard of and the position untenable. After having for a time refused any surrender, the Prime Minister finally threw in the towel. The ship was taking on water from all sides with cascading resignations, more than sixty in total in government circles.

In a statement lasting a few minutes on the steps of 10 Downing Street, watched by his close allies and his wife, Carrie, Boris Johnson noted that it was “clear that the party wanted a new leader and therefore a new prime minister. While considering that this forced departure by his family was “eccentric”. I want you to know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world Boris Johnson

In the distance boos could be heard, which made the Prime Minister say, “I know a lot of people will be relieved and maybe a number of others will be disappointed,” he said, “and I want to let you know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world.” Regrets, but no apologies, noted the British press. Hailing the “brilliant Darwinian system” that brought him down, he added: “in politics, no one is indispensable”. After enjoying a solid following for a long time, Johnson had plunged into opinion polls. According to a YouGov poll on Thursday, 77% of Britons believe he was right to quit.

The next fight immediately ensued. The Prime Minister intends to remain in place until a successor has been appointed, as his two predecessors had done. He said a timetable for the election of a new Tory leader would be made clear next week. A new government has also been appointed to fill the gaps. But, a sign of lack of self-confidence, the maintenance of “BoJo” immediately sparked a lively controversy. The opposition like many conservatives believe that he must leave power immediately, leaving the interim to Dominic Raab. He had already assumed this role during Johnson’s hospitalization in intensive care after his contamination with the coronavirus, and does not intend to apply for succession.

An isolated leader

Labor leader Keir Starmer has threatened to call a confidence vote if the Tories don’t impeach Johnson immediately. Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major told him it was “reckless and perhaps unsustainable” for him to remain in office while he could still exercise his powers. No one can “think that Boris Johnson is capable of behaving as interim prime minister, said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, he will inevitably cause even more chaos”. According to a YouGov poll, a majority of Britons (56%) would think he should step aside immediately.

The announcement of this resignation followed the craziest twenty-four hours of British political life for a long time. Wednesday evening, while the house was burning after the wave of defections launched by the Minister of Health Sajid Javid and that of Finance Rishi Sunak the day before, Boris Johnson refused any idea of ​​resignation, ensuring that he wanted to fight until the last cartridge. Combative, he had even sacked Michael Gove, a weighty minister who had let go of him, by telephone. In the press, he was compared to an isolated leader in his bunker waiting for the final fall…

While a handful of faithful had come to support him in Downing Street, a group of ministers still in office went there to urge the Prime Minister to leave power. Among them, the Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, that of Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, or the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel. And the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nadhim Zahawi, appointed to this prestigious position by Boris Johnson himself less than 24 hours earlier.

Graham Brady, boss of the powerful 1922 Committee – the party’s governing body – was also there. But Boris Johnson took refuge behind his popular mandate – the 14 million people who voted for him -, believing that he still had “colossal work” to do. “The reason I fought so hard over the past few days to continue this term is not just because I wanted to, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019”, he repeated in his speech on Thursday. By saying his bitter regrets for not having succeeded in convincing his peers. Referring to the ‘herd instinct’ of the Conservative Party, he said: ‘when the herd moves, it moves’…

If Boris Johnson wishes to remain in office until the annual Tory conference next October, the timing is instead in the hands of Graham Brady and the executive of the 1922 Committee. According to the press, Brady would like the first competitions for the head of the party, allowing after a certain number of rounds to identify two finalists, be organized before the parliamentary recess which begins on 22 July. It is not until September that a new prime minister is expected to be installed in Downing Street. The candidates will declare themselves in the coming days but no successor will naturally emerge, which leaves a very open game. One of the potential contenders, Foreign Office boss Liz Truss, called on the party for “calm and unity”.

The press is already having fun speculating on the future life of Boris Johnson. According to his biographer Andrew Gimson, he could embark on a lucrative career as a columnist and major conferences. He even calculated that these activities and books could bring more than 3 million pounds next year to the resigning Prime Minister. While believing that he will not be able to give up the dream of returning one day to Downing Street, “so much does he consider politics as a higher vocation than journalism”…

Business countries Political World News