Britain: Boris Johnson resigns as PM

Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced his resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party and as Prime Minister, bringing to an end questions over his continued stay in office. 

Is this still about the Covid-19 lockdown parties? 

That’s certainly part of Johnson’s troubles. And no thanks to Covid and other factors, the economy hasn’t been the best lately, with UK inflation rising sharply in 2022. His exit is no surprise to observers though, as Johnson’s days were already numbered for a while now. Johnson, who had won a vote of confidence in the House of Commons last month, has been in the eye of the storm for months. Things have gotten worse for him lately after several resignations from his cabinet members. Elected Prime Minister on his promise to deliver Brexit, his time in office has been rocked by scandal. 

Who replaces him now? 

A party member and MP, Jeremy Hunt described Johnson as lacking “ethics, competence, and vision”. While announcing his resignation, Johnson noted that he will remain in office until a new leader is elected for the Conservative Party, who would also serve as Prime Minister. That choice is expected to be made by October. Among Tory party members, polls suggest that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace might be the front-runner to succeed Johnson. Others include Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the Minister of State, Penny Mordaunt. 

How did world leaders react to the development? 

There have been mixed reactions to the news. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called Boris Johnson by telephone to express “sadness” over the British leader’s resignation, for obvious reasons (Johnson was one of the most vocal in supporting Ukraine against Russia), the European Union has been relatively indifferent. In the EU, Johnson is not well-liked, and that is not unconnected with his handling of Britain’s exit from the European bloc (Brexit), though he’s been hailed for his strong support for Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. 

The reaction from the White House was certainly not one that would impress Johnson. In a statement on Thursday, US president Joe Biden said that the “special relationship” between America and Britain “remains strong and enduring”, without mentioning Johnson’s name. This is not surprising though, as the relationship between the two leaders is, at best, one of tolerance.

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