“I am heartbroken that he hasn’t listened and that he is now undermining the incredible achievements of this government at this late hour,” he said.
British prime ministers are not directly elected by voters and instead are chosen to lead their party. As such, Johnson needs the support of fellow Conservative Party members to stay in power.
He survived a no-confidence vote by his party last month in which a bruising 41% of its lawmakers voted to oust him. That followed the scandal dubbed “partygate,” which saw Johnson fined by police and slammed by an investigator’s report over lockdown-breaching parties he and his aides held during the Covid pandemic.
Other ministers urged the need to secure a functioning government amid the crisis, which left a slew of government departments without ministers to lead them.
“It’s our duty now to make sure the people of this country have a functioning government,” senior minister Michael Ellis said in the House of Commons before Johnson’s announcement.
His sentiments were echoed by the political opposition.
“He needs to go completely. None of this nonsense about clinging on for a few months. He inflicted lies, fraud and chaos in the country. We are stuck with a government which isn’t functioning in the middle of the cost of living crisis,” Labour Party leader Keir Starmer told Sky News.
Other ministers, however, had believed they had the obligation to stay put.
“A number of us have an obligation to keep this country safe, no matter who is PM. The Party has a mechanism to change leaders and that is the mechanism which I advise colleagues to use. In the meantime, the public would not forgive us if we left these Offices of State empty,” Defense Minister Ben Wallace wrote in a tweet.
Alex Smith and Mahalia Dobson reported from London, and Rhoda Kwan reported from Taipei.