London – Boris Johnson will announce his resignation as British prime minister on Thursday after he was abandoned by ministers and his Conservative Party’s lawmakers who said he was no longer fit to govern.
With eight ministers, including two secretaries of state, resigning in the last two hours, an isolated and powerless Johnson was set to bow to the inevitable and declare he was stepping down later on Thursday, a source said.
His Downing Street office confirmed that Johnson will make a statement to the country later.
After days of battling for his job, Johnson had been deserted by all but a handful of allies after the latest in a series of scandals broke their willingness to support him.
The Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take about two months. It was not clear whether Johnson will or can stay on in a caretaker role while the person who would be the new prime minister was chosen.
Support for Johnson had evaporated during one of the most turbulent 24 hours in recent British political history, epitomised by finance minister, Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed to his post on Tuesday, calling on his boss to resign.
Zahawi and other cabinet ministers went to Downing Street on Wednesday evening, along with a senior representative of those lawmakers not in government, to tell Johnson the game was up.
Initially, Johnson refused to go and seemed set to dig in, sacking Michael Gove – a member of his top ministerial team who was one of the first to tell him he needed to resign – in an effort to reassert his authority.
By Thursday morning as a slew of resignations poured in, it became clear his position was untenable.
“This is not sustainable, and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party, and most importantly for all the country,” Zahawi said on Twitter. “You must do the right thing and go now.”
Some of those that remained in post, including Defence Minister Ben Wallace, said they were only doing so because they had an obligation to keep the country safe.
There had been so many ministerial resignations that the government was facing paralysis with no one willing to accept the vacant posts.