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The latest on Boris Johnson’s resignation

Hear Boris Johnson's 6-minute resignation address
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What you need to know

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday and said he would continue to serve in post until his party selects a new leader.
  • Johnson said a timetable for his departure would be laid out by next week. Many of his lawmakers would like him to go sooner than that.
  • Nearly 60 Conservative lawmakers resigned from Johnson’s scandal-plagued government this week, saying he was no longer fit to lead the country.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about Boris Johnson’s resignation here.

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British PM Boris Johnson's turbulent tenure came to an end on Thursday. Here's what you should know

Boris Johnson’s turbulent tenure as Britain’s Prime Minister came to an end Thursday after a historic party revolt over a series of ethics scandals forced him to step down.

It took the resignation of nearly 60 members of his government — almost half the payroll — for Johnson to finally abandon his attempts to cling on to power.

Speaking in front of the famous 10 Downing Street door, the same place where many of his predecessors delivered their own resignation address, Johnson announced that he would be stepping down — without actually saying the words out loud.

Even then, the Prime Minister insisted that he would continue as caretaker leader while the Conservative Party launches the process of choosing a successor.

Some senior figures in his party say even that will be unsustainable, given the dwindling number of people willing to work for him.

Others are already lining up to replace him. Party officials say they will announce the timetable for a leadership election by Monday.

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage. Read our full report here.

Boris Johnson’s party exhales after months of rolling crises

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces his resignation on Thursday.

After nearly a week of chaos and misery among Conservative lawmakers, “the bubble has been burst. We can move on,” as one former government minister put it.

Despite all the problems facing the country, despite the Conservative party trailing in the polls and despite the potential stain Boris Johnson has left on the party, Conservatives are relieved and even optimistic.
However bad things were, the party seems to sincerely believe it can rebuild itself and that the leadership contest will allow it to reinvent itself after Johnson.

There is anger that Johnson might stay in post until autumn from those who feel the most let down by him, and some don’t quite believe that he won’t try and do further damage in the final weeks of his time in Downing Street.

Those two groups are largely from the extreme ends of the party: The arch-Conservative Euroskeptics who saw Johnson as the closest thing to an ideologically alighted leader they would ever see and the softer Conservatives who think he’s debased the party.

For most, the nightmare of the past few months is over and, for now, Conservatives largely believe they can get back to doing what they believe they do best: Finding ways to stay in power.

This is, of course, an early snapshot of opinion and a leadership contest could well bring up wrinkles, divisions and more fundamental problems with the party that has been in power for 12 years.

A poll published on Thursday by James Johnson, who worked for Theresa May when she was Prime Minister, indicated that only one of the potential candidates to replace Johnson, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, outpolls the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer.

But for the time being, life in Conservative world is more upbeat than it’s been for a long time.

Johnson tells lawmakers that he will not make major policy or fiscal changes before he goes

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will not make major policy or fiscal changes before his successor is chosen, he told his Cabinet, according to a meeting readout seen by CNN.

“He made clear the government would not seek to implement new policies or make major changes of direction, rather it would focus on delivering the agenda on which the Government was elected. He said major fiscal decisions should be left for the next Prime Minister,” according to the statement.

For the remainder of his tenure, the government’s priority would be to focus on delivering manifesto pledges, “the cost of energy, transport and housing and all else that matters to the public.”

UK Deputy PM will not stand as next Conservative leader, British news agency reports

Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Crisis Centre at the Foreign Offices in August 2021.

UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab will not stand as the next Conservative leader, Britain’s PA news agency reports.

This move could see him become the caretaker Prime Minister if Boris Johnson stands down before a new Tory leader is elected.

Johnson resigned Thursday but has insisted he will stay on until the Tories elect a new leader despite mounting calls for him to step down right away.

Conservative MP Steve Baker told CNN’s Max Foster that if a Conservative politician were to be appointed as caretaker Prime Minister in the time between Johnson’s resignation and the party’s election of a new leader, that person could not enter the race to become the next British Prime Minister.

Biden: US will continue "close cooperation" with UK government in wake of Johnson resignation

In a statement provided to CNN, US President Joe Biden said he looks forward to continuing “close cooperation with the government of the United Kingdom” and other allies on a host of issues, including Ukraine.

He also described the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom as “strong and enduring.”

The statement comes on the heels of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcing he intends to resign his post.

Read Biden’s full statement:

“The United Kingdom and the United States are the closest of friends and Allies, and the special relationship between our people remains strong and enduring. I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the government of the United Kingdom, as well as our Allies and partners around the world, on a range of important priorities. That includes maintaining a strong and united approach to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Putin’s brutal war on their democracy, and holding Russia accountable for its actions.”

Johnson called Zelensky a "hero" in phone call following resignation

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit by Johnson to Kyiv, Ukraine, in April.

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of the UK’s support for Ukraine during a phone call on Thursday.

Johnson called Zelensky a “hero” and said “everybody loves you,” according to an official readout of the call. 

“The Prime Minister highlighted the UK’s unwavering cross-party support for President Zelensky’s people, and said the UK would continue to supply vital defensive aid for as long as needed,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

Zelensky’s office confirmed they discussed the future of “defense cooperation” and Britain’s support for Ukraine. He thanked Johnson for his “decisive” action on Ukraine. 

“We all heard this news with sadness. Not only me, but also the entire Ukrainian society,” Zelensky told Johnson. “We have no doubt that Great Britain’s support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma made it special.”

Johnson reportedly pledged to continue to work “at pace” toward ending Russia’s grain blockade of Black Sea ports “in the coming weeks.”

Here's how the British Conservative Party will elect a new leader to replace Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street after resigning from his position on Thursday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation announcement on Thursday has triggered the search for a new Conservative Party leader.

Under the UK political system, between elections, only Conservative members of Parliament have the power to remove a sitting Conservative Prime Minister.

Johnson indicated in his resignation speech that he plans to stay in office until a successor is chosen.

But it’s not clear that the Conservative Party will stand for that in Johnson’s case.

Take a look at who might replace Johnson as UK Prime Minister.

So, how will a new leader be selected and what can we expect?

How is the new Conservative Party leader chosen?

Leadership candidates need the support of at least eight lawmakers.

If there are more than two candidates, Conservative Party lawmakers hold round after round of votes to whittle the number of leadership candidates down to two.

Then Conservative Party members nationwide vote — by mail — between the two finalists.

The winner becomes leader of the party — and Prime Minister.

Is there any way to force Johnson to leave before a new Conservative Party leader is chosen?

Conservative lawmakers could, in theory, try to force him out themselves by calling a vote of confidence among Tory MPs. But Johnson survived a vote like that just a month ago.

Under current party rules, that means there can’t be another party confidence vote in him for 12 months.

The rules could be changed, but it’s not clear the Conservative Party wants to start that kind of infighting when Johnson has already said he’s going, and when a leadership contest is under way.

Can’t the opposition do anything to force Johnson out?

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Thursday that if the Conservatives didn’t push Johnson out immediately, the opposition would call a confidence vote in the government among the entire House of Commons.

If the opposition won, it could theoretically lead to a general election — but even with all the chaos in the Conservative Party at the moment, they still have a big majority in the House of Commons, and they’re not likely to want a general election at the same time as a leadership election. So the chances of the opposition bringing the government down now are slim.

Here's a look at who might replace Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister

Top, left to right: Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Suella Braverman, Steve Baker, Nadhim ZahawiBottom left to right: Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Ben Wallace, Jeremy Hunt

As crisis after crisis has engulfed Boris Johnson in recent months, so rivals of Britain’s beleaguered Prime Minister have been plotting behind closed doors to replace him.

After a dramatic cascade of nearly 60 resignations by lawmakers and government officials, Johnson was forced to begrudgingly announce on Thursday that he would step down.

Here are the potential contenders to succeed him as the new leader of the Conservative Party:

Rishi Sunak

The former chancellor was Johnson’s presumed successor for several months after he won praise for overseeing Britain’s initial financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Sunak’s stock sank earlier this year after revelations that his wife had non-domicile tax status in the UK and that he held a US green card while a minister. He is, however, still among the bookmakers’ odds-on favorites to take Johnson’s job.

Sajid Javid

Like Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned this week over the botched handling of the resignation of Johnson’s former deputy chief whip in a sexual misconduct scandal. Although Javid’s resignation speech sounded very much like a pitch for Prime Minister, outlining how to reshape the party for future generations, it is not yet clear whether he will run.

Liz Truss

The foreign secretary, who has made her leadership ambitions known in recent years, could now be in pole position. Truss is popular among Conservative members, who would pick the eventual winner of a contest. Last month, a source working in the Foreign Office told CNN that Truss had been in “endless meetings with MPs,” and that “it’s been insinuated that she’s seeing what her support base is, should the time come.” Truss’ office denied that any covert leadership bid was coming.

Penny Mordaunt

The trade minister is one of the bookmakers’ favorites to replace Johnson. After last month’s confidence vote, Penny Mordaunt declined to comment on whether she backed Johnson, raising eyebrows among Westminster observers when she said: “I didn’t choose this Prime Minister.”

Tom Tugendhat

A former British military officer who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat has been one of Johnson’s most robust critics and has made no secret of his desire to become Prime Minister.

Nadhim Zahawi

Less than two days after he was appointed to chancellor, replacing Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi publicly called on Johnson to resign. Until his promotion, Zahawi, who joined the cabinet less than a year ago, was considered an unlikely choice as the next Prime Minister. But his rise under Johnson has been rapid, making his mark with early success as vaccines minister amid the coronavirus pandemic and then as education secretary.

Jeremy Hunt

A former health and foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt lost the 2019 leadership vote to Johnson. He has since styled himself as an antidote to Johnson and is without question the highest profile contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the party.

Read about the other contenders here.

"Enough is enough": Opposition leader Keir Starmer calls for a change of government

Keir Starmer is seen before delivering a Brexit speech in 2019 in Harlow, England.

The leader of the opposition Labour party has said Boris Johnson needs to go “completely” and “not cling on for a few months.”

Earlier, Keir Starmer said that his party will bring forward a vote of confidence in Johnson if the Conservatives allow him to “cling on” to power.

Johnson is expected to remain as a caretaker prime minister until a new Conservative leader is picked.

“He needs to go completely — none of this nonsense about clinging on for a few months. He’s inflicted lies, fraud and chaos in the country,” Starmer said in a video posted to his Twitter account on Thursday.

Labour has not been in power since losing the 2010 election, and Starmer criticized 12 years of government under the Conservatives.

“We’re stuck with a government which isn’t functioning in the middle of cost of living crisis. And all of those that have been propping him up should be utterly ashamed of themselves. We’ve had 12 years of a stagnant economy, 12 years of broken public services, 12 years of empty promises. Enough is enough.”

“And the change we need is not a change at the top of the Tory party, it’s much more fundamental than that. We need a change of government and a fresh start for Britain,” Starmer said.

UK House of Commons leader says "ministers will be appointed very soon"

UK House of Commons Leader Mark Spencer arrives at 10 Downing Street in London to attend a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The leader of the House of Commons, Mark Spencer, responded to concerns about a lack of ministers in government on Thursday, saying that “where there is a vacancy, those ministers will be appointed very soon, that the function of those departments will be up and running very quickly.”

As of Thursday afternoon, 59 officials have resigned from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government this week, including five cabinet ministers. 

There are 122 government ministers in total, according to the Institute for Government, of which 28 have resigned. That means nearly a quarter of British government ministers have resigned this week, according to CNN’s latest tally.

A further 31 government officials, including parliamentary private secretaries and trade envoys, have also resigned this week. 

Several of those officials have already been replaced. On Thursday morning, Johnson’s government made several new appointments to his ministerial team and cabinet. However, many junior ministerial positions and parliamentary private secretary positions remain unfilled. 

“There are many talented people on the benches behind me that will be able to take up those roles,” Spencer said in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon. “They’re probably all waiting by their phones.” 

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers argue that the Conservative Party is potentially running out of MPs willing to serve in the government. 

Labour (Co-op) MP Barry Sheerman said there is a “national crisis and a national emergency” and that there should be cross-bench cooperation in the coming weeks in the national interest. Labour MP Ruth Cadbury raised concerns that the basic functions of the government “currently seem to be collapsing.” 

Irish leader urges next UK leader to pull back from taking unilateral action on Northern Ireland Protocol

Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaks to the media in Brussels in May.

Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin has extended his well wishes to outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and urged a “pulling back” by the UK from unilateral action on Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.  

In a statement, Martin commended Johnson’s “leadership highlights,” including his response to the war in Ukraine as well as leading the United Kingdom through the pandemic. 

“From a personal perspective, I am conscious that he has been through a difficult few weeks and I extend my best wishes to him and his family for the future, following the announcement of his resignation,” the taoiseach said. 

Martin also acknowledged the “strained and challenged” relationship between his government and Johnson’s over Brexit and highlighted the importance of a close partnership in maintaining “peace and prosperity on these islands.”

He called for Britain’s new leader to “return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect that is needed to underpin the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.” 

Some background: The protocol is the part of the Brexit deal that sets out special trading arrangements for Northern Ireland in order to prevent a harder border between the country, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. Johnson’s government however had laid out plans to make changes to the bill which were opposed by the EU.

Ireland “stands ready to work with a new UK PM on protecting our shared achievements in the peace process & our shared responsibility under international law on #Brexit,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said on Twitter, adding his well wishes for Johnson and his family.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland have called on Johnson to immediately step down as prime minister, not wait until his successor as Conservative leader is in place.

UK Labour leader could beat most of the likely Johnson replacements, poll suggests

Keir Starmer speaks in 2019 in Harlow, England.

A poll asking respondents to choose between UK Labour leader Keir Starmer and seven likely contenders to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister finds all the Conservatives trailing Starmer except ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who led Starmer by one point. 

The poll found Starmer leading six other hopefuls: ex-Health Secretary Javid (by three points), Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (by 11 points), Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (by 12 points), Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (by 13 points), former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (by 13 points) and former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt (by 15 points.) 

“For each of the following pairs, please indicate which you would most like to be prime minister,” Respondents were asked in the poll.

Pollster James Johnson, who worked for Theresa May when she was prime minister, noted that these were the preliminary results and people may change their mind as the contest gets underway.

Sunak and Javid both resigned from high-profile positions in the Johnson Cabinet the day before the poll was launched. Their departures triggered an avalanche of more than 50 other resignations that ultimately forced Johnson to resign on Thursday. 

The poll, from JL Partners, surveyed 2,028 UK adults online on July 6-7, before Johnson announced his resignation. The margin of error on the sample is plus or minus 2.2 points.

Johnson holds cabinet meeting after resignation

UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a cabinet meeting on Thursday, hours after he announced his resignation.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were among the ministers seen entering Downing Street prior to the meeting.

Former British PM Major says it's "unwise and may be unsustainable" for Johnson to stay in office

Former prime minister Sir John Major during his keynote speech at the Institute for Government, London, England, on February 10.

Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major said it would be “unwise and may be unsustainable” for Boris Johnson to remain in the office of prime minister for a length of time while a new Conservative leader is chosen.

In a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, Major wrote, “The proposal for the Prime Minister to remain in office – for up to three months — having lost the support of his Cabinet, his Government and his parliamentary party is unwise, and may be unsustainable.”

“In such a circumstance the Prime Minister maintains the power of patronage and, of even greater concern, the power to make decisions which will affect the lives of those within all four nations of the United Kingdom and further afield,” Major added in the letter, which was released by his archive on Thursday afternoon. 

“Some will argue that his new Cabinet will restrain him. I merely note that his previous Cabinet did not — or could not — do so,” he continued.

Major suggested that Johnson could resign as prime minister, and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab could serve as acting prime minister until a new leader is elected. Another scenario he suggested was for Conservative MPs to elect a new leader to be installed as prime minister, and then party members could later endorse the new leader. 

“Neither of these options is ideal, but the interests of the country must be given priority over all else and, with so many long-term and critical issues before us, an imaginative response even at the risk of some bruised feelings within the party — is most definitely in the national interest,” he concluded.

Former top aide says Johnson "doesn't think it's over"

Former Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings walks out of his house to speak to the press in London, England, on January 24.

Dominic Cummings, who served as Boris Johnson’s most senior advisor before becoming an outspoken critic of the Prime Minister, said he doesn’t believe Johnson has given up on his fight to stay in the office.

Writing on Twitter before Johnson delivered his statement but after the news he intended to resign broke, Cummings said: “I know that guy & I’m telling you he doesn’t think it’s over.” He added that he believes Johnson thinks he can “play for time” and “get out of this.”

Cummings was one of Johnson’s closest aides since he became Prime Minister in 2019, and he wielded unprecedented power and influence inside Downing Street.

He was often credited as the architect of two of Johnson’s greatest political triumphs: Brexit and his landslide election victory in 2019.

Cummings left Downing Street amid a bitter fallout in November 2020 and has since become a vocal critic of the Prime Minister — most notably of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting after Johnson’s address, Cummings said the speech was “in character” for the Prime Minister.

“Blames everyone else. Thinks he’s the real victim. Sets up betrayal story for future Tory conferences & Telegraph columns,” he said on Twitter.

“We’re all in for a nightmare if he’s allowed to squat,” he added.

Johnson's resignation "opens new page" in UK-EU relations, former EU Brexit negotiator says

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s former chief Brexit negotiator, said he hoped Boris Johnson resignation’s would herald a “more constructive” relationship between the EU and the UK.

Boris Johnson was "a true friend of Ukraine," President Zelensky says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk at Khreschatyk Street and Independence Square during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “a true friend of Ukraine,” adding that he is confident that the UK’s policy toward Ukraine won’t be changing any time soon despite Johnson’s resignation.

Ukraine gained a lot from their relationship with the prime minister, including first and foremost military support, Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Thursday when asked about his comments on Johnson’s resignation.

In his resignation speech, Johnson addressed Britain’s role in supporting Ukraine in its war and said the UK will fight for freedom as long as it takes.

“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,” Johnson said.

The Ukrainian president said he’s looking forward to speaking with Johnson directly to learn more about the details of his resignation.

Opinion: Boris Johnson's empire of lies has finally collapsed

The final lie that brought down the pyramid of untruths that sustained Boris Johnson’s premiership was a particularly unedifying one.

His claim to be unaware of prior complaints about a member of his government accused of assault was swiftly exposed, leading to first a trickle, then a stampede of ministers from his tainted administration.

Johnson has now resigned – like a fractious child unwilling to leave the party, he was previously reduced to begging for a few more months, weeks, days in office.

Why would a prime minister risk his leadership by appointing an alleged predator to a minor role in his government? Why lie about it when, inevitably, his folly was found out?

The answer is not that the miscreant Christopher Pincher was particularly close or important to Johnson; he wasn’t. Instead, both the inability to abide by the norms which bind everyone else and the casual and foolish falsehood which followed speak to flaws in Johnson’s makeup. Since childhood Johnson seems to have found it easier to reach for a preposterous lie than tell an obvious truth – and has yet to meet a rule he didn’t seek to break.

Read the full article here:

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 30: Boris Johnson, UK prime minister holds a press conference at the NATO Summit on June 30, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. During the summit in Madrid, on June 30 NATO leaders will make the historic decision whether to increase the number of high-readiness troops above 300,000 to face the Russian threat.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Opinion: What finally sunk Boris Johnson

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland leaders welcome Johnson's resignation

The leaders of UK’s devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have welcomed the announcement from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he intends to resign as Conservative Party leader on Thursday.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the resignation would bring “a widespread sense of relief that the chaos of the last few days (indeed months) will come to an end.”

In a statement on her Twitter account, she said: “Boris Johnson was always manifestly unfit to be PM and the Tories should never have elected him leader or sustained him in office for as long as they have.”

Sturgeon, who has announced last month that she intends to hold an independence referendum next year, questioned Johnson’s plan to stay on as PM until autumn, saying it’s “far from ideal, and surely not sustainable.”

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said Johnson has “done the right thing.”

“All four nations need a stable UK Government and I am therefore pleased to see the Prime Minister has now done the right thing and agreed to resign,” he said.

Michelle O’Neill, who leads Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said it was “absurd” that Johnson was allowed to stay in the office for so long.

“It has been an utter absurdity that the people here have been subjected to Boris Johnson for any length of time. He is a figure of absolute disrepute. Anyone who tries to sabotage our peace agreements, a quarter century of progress and our shared future is truly no friend of ours,” she said. Sinn Fein is the largest group in Stormont, Northern Ireland’s devolved parliament.

"We need a clean start:" Some of Johnson's lawmakers praise him for quitting

A number of Conservative lawmakers have praised Boris Johnson for his decision to step down. Here are some of those who made public comments so far:

Key lines from Johnson's speech

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks from 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed the “herd instinct” of his colleagues for why he had to resign as Conservative Party leader during a defiant speech some criticized as lacking humility.

Here are some of the other key lines from the speech:

Johnson acknowledges the will of the Conservative Party, saying the timetable for departure to come soon

“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’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now, and 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 says he held off resigning due to the large mandate won at the last general election

“And the reason I have fought so hard in 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 to continue to do what we promised in 2019.”

The UK will continue to support the plight of Ukrainians

“And 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.”

He said it was “eccentric” to be forced out while government was “delivering so much”

“And in the last few days, I’ve tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much, when we have such a vast mandate and when we’re actually only a handful of points behind in the polls – even in midterm after quite a few months and pretty relentless sledging – and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally.”

He blames his defenestration on the “herd instinct” of his colleagues

“But as we’ve seen in Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful when the herd moves, it moves.”

He says “no one is indispensable” and believes new Conservative leader can fix Britain’s problems

“And my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable, and our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader, equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times. Not just helping families to get through it, but changing and improving the way we do things – 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 for great public services.” 

While sad to go, Johnson will support whoever becomes the new leader

“And to that new leader, I say wherever he or she may be, I say I will give you as much support as I can. And to you, the British public – I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few will also be disappointed. And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.”

Boris Johnson's speech was out of step with reality, but in the end he knew his time was up

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces his resignation on Thursday.

Boris Johnson’s resignation speech told a story of how one of the UK’s most controversial leaders would like his time in Downing Street to be remembered. It is not how everyone in the country will recall his nearly three years as Prime Minister.

He spoke of his achievements, starting with getting Brexit done and “settling our relations with the continent for over half a century.” The UK is currently engaged in an almighty spat with the European Union over the very Brexit deal that Johnson signed in 2019, which is threatening to tear Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

He celebrated the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which to date has killed over 180,000 Brits. He spoke of his flagship “levelling-up” agenda, a series of policies which have been widely derided as vague and non-existent.

And he spent a large part of the speech defending his own actions over the past few days, where in the face of derision from across the political divide Johnson clung to power, even though it was becoming clearer by the minute that not resigning was creating instability and chaos.

Johnson said that he did everything to stay in office because “it would be eccentric to change governments, when we’re delivering so much when we have such a vast mandate and when we’re actually only a handful of points behind in the polls.”

In reality, Johnson’s leadership has been in crisis since the start of the year and his protests that he should stay in power despite the numerous scandals and crises looked to many like craven attempts to hang on, no matter what was happening around him.

Attention now turns to a new leader, who will have to inherit a mess, both in terms of the Conservative party and the country. For all Johnson’s desire to remembered as a great Prime Minister, for many, that mess will be his legacy.

However, by the end, Johnson, unlike Donald Trump, did appreciate that his time was up. He wanted to hang on, but he admitted, “Them’s the breaks… no one is indispensable.”

For all the fears of a constitutional crisis, in the end, he did admit he’d run out of road.

Conservative lawmakers booed by onlookers while leaving Downing Street

Several Conservative party members were booed by angry members of public while leaving Downing Street following Johnson’s resignation statement, CNN’s Luke McGee reports from the scene.

Protesters have descended on the heart of the British government in recent days, demanding that Johnson quit.

New British Levelling Up secretary says his duty is ensuring a "functioning government"

Despite his resignation, Johnson has been appointing new cabinet ministers to ensure the government continues to work as he prepares to depart.

The newly appointed UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark said on Thursday that he has a “duty to ensure that the country has a functioning government.” 

“We have a duty to ensure that the country has a functioning government in the weeks ahead,” Clark said in a tweet. “Having been Secretary of State at the Communities department before, I will do my best to provide stability, good governance and accountability to Parliament at this important time.”

Clark was appointed as a cabinet member on Thursday, replacing former minister Michael Gove, who was fired from the position by the prime minister on Wednesday night. 

British Foreign Secretary says "PM has made the right decision"