'Them's the breaks' Boris Johnson quits 'best job in the world' after Tory revolt

7 July 2022, 12:31 | Updated: 7 July 2022, 14:40

Boris Johnson quit as PM and a successor will be appointed in due course
Boris Johnson quit as PM and a successor will be appointed in due course. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party but will continue to serve as PM until his successor is named, with the scandal surrounding Chris Pincher proving to be the final nail in the coffin for his leadership.

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Mr Johnson's premiership was beset with scandal, from Partygate to questions over his wife's job during his three years at the helm.

He quit hours after the newly appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi called for him to step down in a shock intervention this morning but will remain as PM until the autumn.

Boris Johnson quit today but faced criticism for showing a lack of contrition
Boris Johnson quit today but faced criticism for showing a lack of contrition. Picture: Alamy

In a speech outside No10, Mr Johnson, watched by wife Carrie and a crowd of MPs and staffers, said: "It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of the party and therefore a new prime minister."

He said he will serve until a new leader is in place, and that he had sought to stay on as Prime Minister because he felt it was his "obligation" to continue to do what the Tories promised in 2019.

Boris Johnson's wife Carrie Symonds watched his resignation speech today
Boris Johnson's wife Carrie Symonds watched his resignation speech today. Picture: Alamy

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 added: "In the last few days I have tried to convince my colleagues it would be eccentric to change leader when we are delivering so much, when we have such a vast mandate and when we're only a couple of points behind in the polls."

"It's painful not to be able to see through so many projects myself," Mr Johnson adds. "But as we've seen at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves."

The PM's wife at No10 today
The PM's wife at No10 today. Picture: Alamy

Mr Zahawi, who was only appointed Chancellor on Tuesday evening, told Mr Johnson to "do the right thing and go now".

Education secretary Michelle Donelan MP quit after being in the post for around 36 hours as part of a wave of resignations this morning.

A crowd of members of the public gathered at the gates of Downing Street
A crowd of members of the public gathered at the gates of Downing Street. Picture: Alamy

Brandon Lewis quit his Cabinet post as Northern Ireland Secretary, telling the Prime Minister the Government requires "honesty, integrity and mutual respect" and it is "now past the point of no return".

His departure was soon followed by a string of other ministers as the number of MPs quitting government and party posts since Tuesday evening topped 50.

Read more: Full list of Tory MPs who have quit Boris Johnson's govt

Helen Whately quit as a Treasury minister, telling Mr Johnson: "I have argued that you should continue as Prime Minister many times in recent months, but there are only so many times you can apologise and move on. That point has been reached."

Damian Hinds resigned as security minister, telling Mr Johnson there has been a "serious erosion" in standards in public life and "faith in our democracy and public administration".

He said on Twitter: "It shouldn't take the resignation of dozens of colleagues, but for our country, and trust in our democracy, we must have a change of leadership."

Science minister George Freeman wrote to Mr Johnson to say he no longer has confidence in his leadership.

Read more: 'It was the wrong thing to do': PM admits it was a 'mistake' to promote Pincher

Read more: 'The lightweight brigade': Sir Keir blasts Tories loyal to PM for 'lack of self respect'

In his resignation letter, he told Mr Johnson "the chaos in your Cabinet and No 10 this month is destroying our credibility" and "it can't go on".

Guy Opperman left his role as pensions minister, telling Mr Johnson that "recent events have shown clearly that the Government simply cannot function with you in charge".

Courts minister James Cartlidge quit, saying "the position is clearly untenable".

Despite leading the country through the Covid pandemic, his Government broke the rules they ordered the public to adhere to, with several lockdown-breaching gatherings said to have taken place at No10.

He received a Fixed Penalty Notice for a birthday bash held for him by his wife, Carrie, who also received a fine - along with former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

However the PM survived Partygate, narrowly scraping through a confidence vote last month.

But support for the PM vanished practically overnight over his handling of the scandal involving former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, who dramatically quit his role last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private Conservative members' club in London.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other after the PM's grovelling apology over the Pincher scandal.

The Tory whip was only removed from Mr Pincher on Friday afternoon.

Mr Johnson apologised for appointing Pincher to a government role, despite being told about a misconduct complaint against the MP.

The PM admitted he had been told about the complaint in 2019 - but had made a "bad mistake" by not acting on it.

A Tory sleaze row also took over Westminster at the end of 2021 when Tory MP Owen Paterson was investigated by the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards after being accused of breaking lobbying rules.

The commissioner decided that there were "serious breaches" but the government decided to block his suspension from parliament before quickly u-turning after a backlash.

Mr Johnson received criticism from across the House for the way he dealt with the scandal, later issuing yet another apology.

Mr Johnson entered Downing Street for the first time as PM in July 2019, replacing Theresa May.

He won over Brits with his plan to 'Get Brexit done' - an issue which he also received backlash for near the end of his leadership - after making the controversial decision to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol.

However, he continued to cling on to power, even after the cracks began to show in his Cabinet.

Responding to Mr Javid's resignation, he suggested his Government would "continue to deliver" plans for the NHS under new Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

During PMQs on Wednesday, he confirmed his intentions to stay, saying his job is to "keep going".

But once again his actions fell short of his words with him soon stepping down.