Reaction as Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister, saying he is ‘proud of government’s achievements’
Boris Johnson said he was “immensely proud of the achievements” of the government as he confirmed his resignation as Prime Minister.
Following a long line of ministerial resignations, Mr Johnson finally bowed to the pressure and this afternoon spoke to the nation to confirm he would step down.
He intends to serve as PM “until a new leader is in place”.
Mr Johnson confirmed that he had spoken to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives that runs the process of choosing the party leader.
Speaking outside Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: “It is clearly now the will of the Parliamentary Conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and so a new Prime Minister.
“I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady... that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now.
He thanked “millions for their mandate” after securing the biggest share of the vote since 1979 and explained why he still thinks it is a bad idea to change leadership and “regrets he was not successful in persuading colleagues.”
Mr Johnson said: “The reason I have fought so hard over the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you.
“I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this government in getting Brexit done, to settling our relations with the continent, reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in Parliament.
“Getting this country through the pandemic, getting the fastest vaccine roll-out 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 then addressed the people in Ukraine, saying the UK will “continue to back their fight”.
Mr Johnson vowed to support the next leader, while acknowledging that some people will be “relieved” to see him go.
He said his successor’s priorities will be “helping families to get through… cutting burdens on businesses and families, and, yes, cutting taxes because that is the way to generate the growth and the income we need to pay the great public services”.
He added: “To that new leader, whoever he or she may be, I say: ‘I will give you as much support as I can’.”
He thanked his wife and family “who have had to put up with so much for so long”, and he also thanked the “peerless British civil service” and the “fantastic NHS” who “helped to extend my own period in office”.
The PM’s resignation follows a series of controversies, the latest being his appointment of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip earlier this year. Mr Johnson, it has emerged, was aware of a misconduct complaint against Mr Pincher at the time, something No 10 initially denied.
That prompted the departures of leading Cabinet members Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday, and has led to more than 50 resignations.
Mr Johnson had survived a confidence vote in June over his role in the partygate scandal of lockdown parties in Downing Street, but could not escape the latest controversy.
Amid the chaos in government, two Cambridgeshire MP have been promoted to Cabinet positions.
Shailesh Vara, Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire, has been appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Downing Street said.
And earlier this week Steve Barclay, Tory MP for North East Cambridgeshire, was named as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
South Cambridgeshire Conservative MP Anthony Browne was among those calling for the PM to go and revealed on Tuesday that he been one of the MPs who wrote a letter of no confidence in June, triggering the initial vote.
He said: “There has been a catastrophic destruction of trust in government, and these latest revelations have cemented my long-held view.”
But Pippa Heylings, the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary hopeful for South Cambridgeshire, said: “It has been shameful to see this area’s Conservative MP stand loyally by Boris Johnson through years of scandals and lies. It is clear Anthony Browne only acted at the last minute to save his own skin.
“Local people tell me they will never forgive Anthony Browne MP for standing by Boris Johnson for so long.
“We need a local MP who will put local people’s needs over party loyalty to a Conservative party which has proven to be completely out of touch.
“Conservative MPs voted for unfair tax hikes on working families, in favour of allowing water companies to continue pump sewage into our rivers and for hitting ordinary working families with unfair tax rises.
“This country needs change and real leadership to deal with the cost of living crisis, record NHS waiting times and to tackle climate change. The Conservative party have proven they are not up to the job.”