Boris Johnson says 'process of choosing new leader will begin now' as PM announces resignation
Boris Johnson's resignation comes following mounting pressure from Tory MPs
Boris Johnson said the "process of choosing new leader will begin now" as the Prime Minister officially announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader.
Mr Johnson opted to step down following days of pressure from his own politicians, which saw more than 50 of them resign in the wake of the the Chris Pincher row.
In a statement confirming the news outside No.10 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 therefore a new Prime Minister and i have agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now.
"The timetable will be announced next week and I have today appointed a Cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place."
He added that he was “immensely proud of the achievements of this Government”, from getting Brexit done to getting the UK through the pandemic, and leading the West in standing up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
The PM said he had tried to persuade his Cabinet it would be “eccentric” to change Prime Minister now but “I regret not to have been successful in those arguments”.
After acknowledging that "in politics, no one is remotely indispensable", Mr Johnson told the British public: “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world."
Addressing the people of Ukraine, Mr Johnson said “we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes”.
The 58-year-old continued: “Let me say now to the people of Ukraine, that I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes.
“And, at the same time, in this country we’ve been pushing forward a vast programme of investment in infrastructure and skills and technology, the biggest in a century.
“Because if I have one insight into human beings, it is that genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed throughout the population, but opportunity is not, and that’s why we must keep levelling up, keep unleashing the potential of every part of the United Kingdom.
“If we can do that in this country, we will be the most prosperous in Europe.”
Resignations within the party began on Tuesday when former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak both quit in quick succession.
Nadhim Zahawi took over as Chancellor from Mr Sunak, before dramatically calling for the PM to resign on Thursday morning.
Mr Johnson spoke to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee, to inform him of his decision.
Calls for the PM to resign continued on Thursday morning Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the PM that he was submitting his resignation with “regret”, but said that a divided Conservative Party cannot win elections.
Mr Lewis, who took over the role in early 2020, told Mr Johnson that the Government had taken “huge strides to level up the economy of Northern Ireland and have not shied away from taking other difficult decisions; confronting the practical issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, advocating for the reproductive rights of women and championing the benefits of integrated education for all”.
He continued: “A decision to leave Government is never taken lightly, particularly at such a critical time for Northern Ireland. I have taken a lot of time to consider this decision, having outlined my position to you at length last night.
His resignation was quickly followed by Treasury minister Helen Whately, who told the PM there “are only so many times you can apologise and move on”.