Boris Johnson has announced his resignation. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister confirmed that he would reluctantly leave office after a majority of his MPs lost faith in his ability to lead. He said it was ‘clearly the will of the parliamentary Conservative party’ that he goes.
In terms of the speech, Johnson used it to big up his achievements in office and pledge support for Ukraine. He also said it was critical that the Conservative party continues with the levelling up agenda so as to unleash all the ‘genius and talent and imagination’ in the country.
The speech was rather pointed in places. Boris Johnson said he had tried to make the point to colleagues that changing leader now would be ‘eccentric’ but had failed despite the fact he had a ‘vast mandate’ and the party is only a handful of points behind in the polls. He concluded: ‘Them’s the breaks’.
While he thanked his wife Carrie Johnson for her support along with the staff at Chequers, Johnson did not thank any members of his (remaining) cabinet.
It was ultimately a speech which conveyed his reluctance and sadness to be leaving what he described as the best job in the world. While the 1922 committee will set out next week a timetable for a leadership contest, it’s clear that Johnson is keen to stay in No. 10 until the autumn – hence his hastily assembled interim cabinet this morning.
While Johnson said that he had learnt in politics that ‘no one is remotely indispensable’, there was enough in the speech to suggest he could cause issues for his successor. Johnson said: ‘I will give you as much support as I can.’ Given how unhappy the Prime Minister is about being forced out by his MPs, that support could be rather limited indeed.
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