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Since November of last year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has endured challenge after challenge to his political wellbeing. He survived some hearings, police penalties and a vote of no confidence by his own party.
But on Thursday, after a new swath of resignations from his cabinet and governing coalition, Johnson resigned. Giving a speech in front of 10 Downing Street, Johnson said that he’d be stepping down as prime minister just as soon as a new one was appointed, effectively turning him into a government caretaker for the next little while.
This isn’t totally shocking, even if it is a little sudden – other conservative PMs who have survived things like votes of no confidence, as Johnson did, haven’t lasted that long after either, and analysts were expecting him to have difficulty politically surviving through this period. It turns out that the man who defies political gravity ends up getting pulled down every once in a while.
Now the question on everyone’s mind is clear: who comes next?
“I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this government,” Johnson said in his resignation speech in front of the Prime Minister’s residence on Downing Street, “from getting Brexit done to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century, reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in Parliament, getting us all through the pandemic, delivering the fastest vaccine rollout 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.”
“The Tory Party have inflicted chaos upon the country during the worst cost of living crisis in decades and they cannot now pretend they are the ones to sort it out,” wrote Keir Starmer, the leader for the opposition Labour party in Parliament. “We don’t need to change the Tory at the top – we need a proper change of government.”
Members of Johnson’s party had criticisms about even leaving him in power for the transition. “Leaving him in a position where he can use the power of the premiership to suit his own causes and his own interests is a very dangerous thing to do,” said former conservative Deputy Prime Minister Lord Michael Heseltine. “It will merely perpetuate the uncertainty.”