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Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister amid groping scandal involving Chris Pincher



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Boris Johnson has resigned as Prime Minister in a statement to the nation.

The scandal-hit Prime Minister will step down following dozens of ministerial resignations which began with the departures of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid within five minutes of each other on Tuesday.

This morning North West Norfolk MP James Wild withdrew his support issuing a statement saying, "enough is enough".

Prime minister Boris Johnson Picture: Barry Goodwin
Prime minister Boris Johnson Picture: Barry Goodwin

He said: “Having publicly backed the Prime Minister in the vote of confidence, it is very disappointing that the result did not lead to a changed approach and the restoration of the highest standards in public life that my constituents and the British people rightly expect.

"Events in recent days and the response have underlined this starkly and regrettably my conclusion is that this situation cannot continue for the good of the country. Enough is enough. We need a change of leadership to restore public trust in democracy and good governance.”

Liz Truss, South West Norfolk MP, had previously said she had "100 per cent confidence" in the Prime Minister. She will now be considered one of the favourites to success Mr Johnson (see poll below).

West Norfolk resident Stephen Fry tweeted condemnation of the PM for taking so long to go saying: "He just couldn’t do the decent thing and step aside at once. He doubtless pictures himself as an unleashed buccaneering, cavalier swashbuckler rather than the rogue elephant he is, trampling down what’s left of our democracy. Oh and oy and oomph, such days."

Speaking outside Downing Street today, Mr Johnson said: "It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and so a new prime minister.

"I've agreed with Sir Graham Brady... that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now.

He thanked "millions for their mandate" after securing the biggest share of the vote since 1979 and explained why he still thinks it’s a bad idea to change leadership and “regrets he was not successful in persuading colleagues.”

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 then addressed the people in Ukraine, saying the UK will "continue to back their fight".

He confirms he will serve "until a new leader is in place".

This all follows the departure of Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Suank. In total, 55 MPs submitted letters of resignation.

On Tuesday, Mr Javid said: "It has been an enormous privilege to serve in this role, but I regret that I can no longer continue in good conscience."

He added: "I served for you loyally and as your friend. We all serve the country first. When made to choose between those loyalties there can be only one answer."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak then resigned saying: "The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has resigned
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has resigned
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has resigned
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has resigned

This morning, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi also called on him to go as a further nine stepped down from their roles.

Yesterday, dozens of ministers quit and levelling up boss Michael Gove reportedly told Mr Johnson he must leave before PMQs. He was later sacked.

During PMQs Mr Johnson repeatedly said he would be "getting on with the job" despite members of his own party taking the opportunity to call on him to go.

One Tory backbencher told the House Mr Johnson had yesterday blamed other MPs for Chris Pincher inappropriate behaviour last week, saying the Prime Minister said seven MPs who were present should have stopped him drinking so much.

Last night, a delegation of cabinet ministers, reported to include staunch loyalist Priti Patel and newly-appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, arrived at Downing Street to tell the PM to quit.

But a rival contingent, including Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, were also there to urge him to fight on and he told them he would not be quitting.

ITV reported he told colleagues it was a choice between a summer focused on economic growth or the chaos of a leadership contest and possible general election.

Mr Pincher is accused of groping two men at the Carlton Club – a private members' club popular with Tory politicians.

The MP was suspended after resigning from his post.

He's said to have been so drunk he couldn't remember his address and was bundled into a taxi at 1am, handing in his resignation the following day and saying he "drank too much".

Mr Johnson at first said he knew nothing of previous claims against former deputy chief whip Mr Pincher.

It has since transpired Mr Johnson was aware of past allegations of improper conduct levelled at Mr Pincher but appointed him anyway.

Chris Pincher in Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)
Chris Pincher in Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Downing Street at first denied he knew anything before saying he didn't know about any "specific incidents" but was aware of new reports and "unsubstantiated" claims.

But earlier a cabinet minister said the PM "forgot" he'd been told about an upheld complaint against Mr Pincher in 2019.

It's the latest scandal to rock the PM's tenure.

He seemed to have weathered the Partygate storm and previous issues around Owen Paterson and revamping his Downing Street flat.

Analysis from Political Editor Paul Francis

Boris Johnson isn’t the first Prime Minister to resist being turfed out of office and won’t be the last.

But his resistance to handing over the keys to Downing Street was remarkable, given the backdrop.

Nearly 40 members of his party resigned and multiple MPs publicly declared they no longer can support him.

He has been living on borrowed time but his fate was sealed after the stunning resignations of two of his cabinet ministers.

The continuing saga concerning what he knew or did not know about the allegations against the former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher has proved to be the last straw – many thought he should have gone in the wake of the damaging investigation into Partygate.

The tipping point and the moment he finally ran out of road came with the intervention of a senior civil servant who had to remind him that he had indeed been briefed about the allegations against Mr Pincher.

Yet again the Prime Minister had to to do a u-turn and acknowledge he had indeed been told.

Clearly cabinet colleagues felt they could no longer support the PM and the sense of frustration at being diverted by these personal issues was palpable.

Every time the party seemed to take one step forward it took two steps back. The mood among activists and party members has been dark for some time but they have judged he was no longer an asset but a liability.

Having reached that verdict there really has been no alternative but for him to quit.

The implosion of his leadership after two years in the job, played out in real time thanks to social media and 24-hour news, has been a macabre but compelling spectacle.

The ticker-tape announcing the latest ministerial resignation took on an importance entirely disproportionate to the relative anonymity of the holder of the post.

The word ‘trust’ cropped up in resignation letters, along with ‘integrity’ and ‘decency’ - values many MPs felt had been junked by the party.

The most destructive event was the ‘Partygate’ scandal which lifted the lid on a culture in which there was a casual disregard among Downing Street aides for the restrictions on social gatherings during Covid-19.

The manner of his going remains unclear. But one thing is: the Prime Minister has, like a football manager, lost the dressing room.

More as we get it.



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