Boris Johnson Agrees To Resign As Prime Minister

 

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Thursday finally agreed to step down as Britain’s prime minister.

The Tory leader announced his resignation this afternoon at 10, Downing Street, London.

His agreement to step down comes after several weeks of intense calls for his resignation and a loss of party support, borne out of his mishandling of damaging scandals including parties held at Downing Street in defiance of coronavirus lockdowns and the appointment of Chris Pincher into his government despite knowing of past allegations of sexual misconduct.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 05, 2021 Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves after giving an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside the new Downing Street Briefing Room in central London. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)

 

“It is clear now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” Mr Johnson announced.

“I have agreed with Graham Brady, the Chairman of our back bench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now.”


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Johnson is expected to continue as Prime Minister until the autumn. A Conservative leadership race will hold this summer and a new PM will be in place in time for the Tory party conference in October.

This is the third day of a steady stream of resignations from Boris Johnson’s government, with over 50 members gone.

While making his resignation speech, Johnson noted that he is very proud of his achievements, including getting Brexit done, getting the UK through the pandemic and leading the West in standing up to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

He advised that the UK must “keep levelling up”, adding that in doing so, the country would become the most prosperous in all of Europe.

The Prime Minister also asserted that he tried to persuade his colleagues that it would be “eccentric” to change government when such a mandate is at hand, adding, however, that he regrets not being successful in those arguments.

UK’s Johnson Fights Back After Defection

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on as he welcomes Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq for talks in 10 Downing Street in London on December 16, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP
File Photo: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Allies of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson closed ranks on Thursday after a day of high drama prompted second thoughts among some Conservatives about dethroning their embattled leader.

One anti-Johnson plot by younger Tory MPs, livid at breaches of lockdowns by partying Downing Street staff, appeared to be fizzling out despite one senior backbencher telling him to his face to quit, “in the name of God”.

Wednesday’s defection of Conservative Christian Wakeford to Labour served as a reminder of the high stakes at play, with the opposition party surging in opinion polls.

“The prime minister is probably thanking Christian for what he did because it’s made a lot of people think again, think twice,” Tory MP Andrew Percy told BBC radio.

“It’s kind of made people a bit more relaxed, it’s calmed nerves,” he said.

“I think people have recognised that actually this constant navel-gazing and internal debating is only to the advantage of our political opponents.”

Before Wakeford’s defection, the plotters appeared confident that they were close to the 54 letters needed to force a no-confidence vote in Johnson by Conservative MPs.

But the secretive process remained on hold, with some rebels even withdrawing their letters in response to Wakeford joining Labour, according to reports.

The right-wing Daily Mail newspaper said that against a backdrop of crisis at home and abroad, it was no time to be changing leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “poised to start a war” in Ukraine, and UK inflation is soaring, it said in a front-page editorial.

“Yet a narcissistic rabble of Tory MPs are trying to topple (a) PM who’s leading us out of Covid. In the name of God, grow up!”

– Johnson unmasked –

Critics accuse Johnson of lying to parliament about what he knew and when with regard to boozy parties held in Downing Street in apparent breach of his own government’s Covid rules over the past two years.

While apologising for the parties, he denies misleading the country and insists that all sides should await the findings of an internal inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

On Wednesday, he indicated in parliament that Gray’s findings could come out next week, as he defiantly vowed to fight on as leader to the next general election due in 2024.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid agreed that any minister, “from the prime minister down”, found to have broken the law would have to resign.

But Javid said he believed Johnson was secure in his job.

“At the same time, people are right to be angered and pained about what they have seen, and they have heard. I share that anger and pain,” he told BBC television on Thursday.

Johnson tried to regain the political initiative by announcing he was lifting most Covid restrictions in England, with a wave of Omicron infections apparently fading.

He said that even a mandate to wear face masks in public settings — seen by scientists as basic protection against Covid — would expire.

That earned loud cheers from restive Tories in the House of Commons. But Javid denied that Johnson was trying to save his own job by placating the party’s right-wing, at the risk of people’s lives.

“People would be wrong to think that,” he said, insisting that government scientists agreed that the Omicron wave had passed after peaking at more than 200,000 daily infections in early January.

Johnson Confirms UK’s ‘Diplomatic Boycott’ Of Beijing Olympics

File photo: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during an event on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. Steve Reigate / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday the UK would diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing in February by not sending any ministers to the global event.

“There will be effectively a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing,” Johnson told MPs when asked about the issue in parliament.

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Johnson said he typically did not support “sporting boycotts”, but revealed there were no plans for government ministers to attend the games over alleged human rights abuses by China.

“I do not think that sporting boycotts are sensible — that remains the policy of the government,” he added.

The UK move follows similar steps by other Western countries, with Australia on Wednesday also announcing it would join the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

The allies have a growing discord with China over a slew of issues that has plunged relations into the most serious crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

They include human rights abuses in Xinjiang and a crackdown on pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, a former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

AFP

Biden, Johnson Agree To Hold Virtual G7 Summit On Afghan

A photo collage of US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

 

US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Afghanistan on Tuesday and announced a virtual summit of the G7 leaders on the crisis, the White House said.

“They agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach,” the White House said in a statement.

This was the first phone call between Biden and a foreign leader since the startling weekend takeover by the Taliban of Kabul, prompting a panicky operation to withdraw the final US and allied personnel from the city’s airport.

The sudden Taliban victory has sparked fears of a large-scale humanitarian crisis both in Afghanistan and possibly involving waves of refugees seeking asylum abroad, including in western Europe.

Biden — widely criticized for the lack of preparation in getting thousands of people airlifted to safety — and Johnson “discussed the need for continued close coordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan policy going forward,” the statement said.

This includes “ways the global community can provide further humanitarian assistance and support for refugees and other vulnerable Afghans.”

In London, a Downing Street spokesman said the two leaders welcomed US-British cooperation in the ongoing evacuation effort.

“They resolved to continue working closely together on this in the days and weeks ahead to allow as many people as possible to leave the country,” a statement said.

“The prime minister and President Biden agreed on the need for the global community to come together to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” the statement said.

It said that Johnson also “stressed the importance of not losing the gains made in Afghanistan over the last twenty years.”

The G7, which Britain heads this year, comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

EU, UK Reach Brexit Deal

 

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Thursday that Brussels had come to an agreement with Britain on a Brexit withdrawal agreement to be presented to EU leaders.

“Where there is a will, there is a deal — we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions,” Juncker tweeted.

“I recommend that EUCO endorses this deal,” he said, referring to the European Council of the leaders of member states that was to meet later Thursday.

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Affirming Junker’s statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also on Thursday announced what he said was a “great new deal” for Britain to leave the European Union, as leaders gathered in Brussels for talks.

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control,” he wrote on Twitter, calling on lawmakers in London to approve the agreement at a rare sitting of parliament on Saturday.

MPs Vote Against Early Election In New Blow For UK’s Johnson

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows members of parliament filing back into the House of Commons in London/ AFP

 

British MPs on Tuesday voted against holding an early election next month in a fresh blow for beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The vote came just before the suspension of parliament for five weeks — a controversial move decided by Johnson.

Boris Johnson’s Brother Quits UK Government

In this file photo taken on September 04, 2019 Britain’s Minister of State for Universities Jo Johnson arrives to attend a meeting of the Cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central London on September 4, 2019. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt a fresh blow on Thursday when his brother Jo quit the government, saying he could no longer reconcile “family loyalty and national interest”.

Jo Johnson had campaigned strongly against Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2016, a position that put him at odds with his older and more famous brother Boris.

But he took a job in his brother’s government as universities and science minister, a position he had held previously.

“It’s been an honour to represent Orpington (a London suburb) for nine years & to serve as a minister under three prime ministers,” Jo Johnson tweeted.

“In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest — it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & minister.”

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Like many families in Britain, the Johnsons were deeply divided over Brexit — a third sibling, Rachel, and their father Stanley also wanted to stay in the EU.

Stanley worked for the European Commission in the 1970s and then served as a Conservative MEP, while Rachel ran unsuccessfully for the European Parliament in elections this year for the anti-Brexit Change UK party.

The resignation of Jo Johnson, who like his brother Boris is a former journalist, comes after 22 MPs left the governing Conservative party this week.

One MP defected to the pro-European Liberal Democrats and 21 were expelled for voting against the prime minister’s Brexit strategy.

His also resignation comes the day after MPs voted to legislate to stop Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a divorce deal on October 31.

The opposition Labour party seized on his departure.

Deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: “Once again, the people who trust Boris Johnson least are the ones who know him best.”

Pollster Joe Twyman tweeted: “It’s going to be a hell of a Christmas lunch in the Johnson household”.

BBC journalist David Cornock quipped: “A rare case of a politician resigning to spend less time with his family”.

EU To Resist Johnson ‘No-Deal’ Brexit Scare Tactics

 

The European Union is bracing for tough Brexit talks with Britain but will stand firm as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ramps up his “no-deal” threats, diplomats said Tuesday.

Johnson, who took office late last month, says he wants to leave the EU with a deal but insists the current terms are unacceptable and if necessary Britain will exit on October 31 with no agreement at all.

Such a scenario would lead to major disruption on both sides of the Channel.

London insists Brussels must renegotiate key elements of the divorce deal struck last year, and in particular drop the so-called “Irish backstop”.

It has stepped up its preparations for a chaotic “no-deal” Brexit.

Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost held talks in Brussels last week that a diplomat said led the EU to conclude there was currently no basis for “meaningful discussions”.

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“It is better to be prepared for ‘no deal’, because Boris Johnson is credible on this threat,” a senior diplomat warned after being briefed on last week’s talks.

“He will try to play on the fear of ‘no deal’ to try to divide Europeans. For the time being, the unity of the 27 is holding, but we will have to see,” he said.

“The question is who’s going to fold first, because Boris Johnson is following a political logic to keep power.”

Danuta Huebner, a member of the Brexit group in the European Parliament, said Johnson was trying to create the idea of the “necessity” of no deal.

“It is absolutely obvious (that the) no-deal option is a tactic. Sorry to say it will not work,” she wrote.

– Gove accusation –
EU officials insist their position has not changed and Brussels will not reopen the withdrawal agreement struck with Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, which has been rejected three times by British lawmakers

Michael Gove, Johnson’s minister in charge of no-deal planning, accused the EU of refusing to negotiate.

“We will put all our energy into making sure that we can secure that good deal but at the moment it is the EU that seems to be saying they are not interested,” he said.

“They are simply saying ‘No, we don’t want to talk’. I think that is wrong and sad. It is not in Europe’s interests.”

But Annika Breidthardt, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, insisted that President Jean-Claude Juncker was “available if Boris Johnson wishes to discuss and clarify his position in person or by phone”.

An EU source said Frost had used last week’s meeting to repeat their demand for the backstop to be thrown out.

The “backstop” arrangement is intended to keep open the border between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland but critics say it risks keeping Britain tied to Brussels rules long after Brexit.

“This is the precondition stated by Boris Johnson for any discussion, and it is not acceptable to the 27,” the EU source said.

“It is not clear why the union would give Johnson what it refused Theresa May, for whom it had some sympathy,” commented a European diplomat, who predicted that nothing of substance would happen before a G7 meeting at the end of August in Biarritz, southwest France.

A preparatory meeting could be organised just beforehand between Michel Barnier and Brexit minister Stephen Barclay, but nothing has yet been agreed.

Brexit: A Massive Economic Opportunity, Says PM Johnson

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday said Brexit was a “massive economic opportunity” but had been treated under his predecessor Theresa May as “an impending adverse weather event”.

In a speech in Manchester where he pledged new investment in Leave-voting areas, Johnson promised to step up negotiations on post-Brexit trade deals and set up free ports to boost the economy.

“When people voted to leave the European Union, they were not just voting against Brussels, they were voting against London too,” he said.

Johnson promises to give more powers to local communities, as well as boost broadband and transport infrastructure in a speech focused on domestic issues.

“Taking back control doesn’t just apply to Westminster regaining sovereignty from the EU, it means our cities and counties and towns becoming more self governing,” he said.

“Leaving the EU is a massive economic opportunity to do things we’ve not been allowed to do for decades,” he said.

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Asked about the prospect of Brexit negotiations, Johnson said he was willing to engage with EU partners but only if the backstop clause was removed from the current divorce agreement struck by May.

The backstop seeks to ensure a free-flowing post-Brexit border between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, in all eventualities.

“The approach of the UK government is not going to be disengaged or aloof or waiting for them to come to us, we are going to try to solve this problem,” he said.

“We can’t do it as long as that anti-democratic backstop, that backstop that seeks to divide our country, divide the UK, remains in place. We need to get it out and then we can make progress.”