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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party on Thursday but will remain in office until his successor is chosen, a move underscoring the tremendous pressure on Johnson to resign amid a series of scandals and resignations in his cabinet, the Washington Post reported.
Johnson’s announcement came a day after two of his key cabinet members, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, resigned over scandals that have gripped the government.
Soon after their resignation, at least 59 other officials followed suit, while urging Johnson to resign, Axios wrote.
Johnson has been facing calls to step down since a scandal broke over lockdown-breaching parties held in government offices, including his office and residence, during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The prime minister had apologized but refused to step down.
The last straw was the discovery that Johnson had appointed Conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher to his cabinet despite being aware of past sexual misconduct allegations against him. Pincher stepped down last week after additional claims were made against him.
Following the wave of resignations, the embattled leader said he appointed new cabinet members that would temporarily serve until a new prime minister is appointed. There will be no general election.
He also spoke briefly to the people of Ukraine, where he is extremely popular because of his backing for arms transfers, and pledged that support would continue under his successor.
Despite his announcement to leave, some former allies and opposition politicians said Johnson was stalling for time and called on him to step down immediately.
The process to pick a new prime minister will take weeks. According to a YouGov poll released on Thursday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is the Conservative Party’s favorite. Others mentioned included Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.