Boris Johnson will resign as Prime Minister of the UK, drawing a close to a leadership riddled with scandals and accusations of corruption.
The announcement came following a sexual misconduct scandal that prompted over 50 MPs, including those who had only been recently appointed, to step down.
Speaking outside Downing Street on Thursday, Johnson said, “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.”
He thanked the public for the “immense privilege,” of being in “the best job in the world,” and said that he was proud of his work on the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout and “getting Brexit done.”
“I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world,” he said. “But them's the brakes.”
Ending the speech, he told the public: “I know that even if things can sometimes seem dark, now, our future together is golden.”
Johnson will stay in his current position until a leadership contest within his Conservative Party has finished in the autumn. He has named a new cabinet that will work alongside him until the changeover.
However, some have speculated that staying in his role for a number of months will not be viable. Leader of the opposition Keir Starmer has said Johnson, “needs to go,” and that “he can't cling on.”
He had faced increasing pressure from MPs from his party after it emerged that he had known about allegations against Chris Pincher, who was accused of making unwanted passes at staff, before approving his appointment to a senior government role.
Johnson’s leadership will be marked by scandal, including breaking his own COVID lockdown laws. Through the scandals, Johnson maintained “no rules were broken.”
Johnson, a former journalist, began his political career in 2001, standing as a Conservative candidate for Henley after working as a journalist. In 2008, he was elected as Mayor of London, a position he held for eight years.
In 2016, Johnson became a prominent figure in the Vote Leave campaign to pull Britain out of the European Union, but declined to run for leader after David Cameron’s resignation. After the Brexit referendum and Theresa May became prime minister, Johnson was made Foreign Secretary. He later resigned from this position and returned to being an MP.
Johnson stood in the 2019 Conservative leadership election and was elected as leader by party members in July. A snap election in December 2019 saw Johnson gain a majority, weeks before reports of a novel coronavirus started to emerge.
As leader of a country with one of the highest COVID death toll, Johnson was accused of not acting fast enough to stop the spread of the virus during his leadership.
Johnson’s political career has been plagued with scandals. The former PM was accused of allowing Tory donors to foot the bill for his Downing Street refurb; an alleged relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, a woman who received public funds from Johnson during his role as Mayor of London; not disclosing who had paid for a £15,000 holiday to a luxury villa on the private Caribbean island of Mustique and allegedly – amid the fall of Afghanistan into the arms of the Taliban – signing off the rescue of 73 dogs and cats while many people remained trapped.
A Conservative leadership election will now start, with Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and newly promoted Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi likely to run.