British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign and will formalize his decision in a public announcement on Thursday, The Associated Press reports, citing an official in his Downing Street office. The BBC’s Chris Mason reports that Johnson will resign as Conservative Party leader but “continue as prime minister until the autumn,” acting as caretaker head of government until the Conservatives pick a new party leader before their annual conference in October. It’s not clear he will be allowed to stay on that long.
Johnson has been facing increasingly fierce pressure to step down for days, and his ouster was expected after two of his top Cabinet ministers, Treasury chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, resigned in tandem on Tuesday, starting a wave of resignations that continued Thursday morning. New Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi publicly called on Johnson to step down minutes before news broke of his resignation and “just 36 hours after Johnson put him in the job, while another newly appointed Cabinet minister quit her post,” AP notes.
Johnson, 58, had dug in his heels on Wednesday, refusing to quit even after a group of his most trusted Cabinet ministers visited him at his office and told him to resign because he had lost the trust of his party. Instead, Johnson fired one of the ministers, Michael Gove, setting off more resignations.
Britain’s Conservatives began to get restive about Johnson’s leadership after snowballing revelations of parties at his office and residence that violated his own government’s C0VID-19 lockdown rules, leading to a no confidence vote he narrowly survived. This week, Johnson acknowledged he had elevated a Tory lawmaker to a senior position even though he knew about previous sexual misconduct allegations.
Given the chaos and vacancies in Johnson’s government, “is it sustainable for him to carry on until the autumn?” the BBC’s Mason asks. “That argument will rage today. And another will begin: who should be our next prime minister?”