WRAP | UK's Johnson tells ministers: No major policy changes until new leader chosen

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07 July 19:02

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told cabinet ministers on Thursday the government would not seek to implement new policies or make major changes of direction while his Conservative Party elects a new leader, his office said.

Johnson, who said earlier on Thursday he would resign, told a meeting of his cabinet ministers the government would only focus on delivering the agenda on which it was elected.

"He said major fiscal decisions should be left for the next prime minister," his office said following a cabinet meeting.


07 July 18:49

Russian ambassador: Johnson's fall is just reward for 'belligerent' policy on Ukraine

Russia's ambassador to Britain said on Thursday that Boris Johnson's fall was a just reward for a "belligerent" anti-Russian policy of support for Ukraine while ignoring the economic needs of the British people.

"He concentrated too much on the geopolitical situation, on Ukraine," Andrei Kelin, Russian ambassador to Britain, told Reuters in an interview in London.

"He left behind very much the country, people, state of the economy, and this is what has brought this outcome," Kelin said in English.

"Of course, we would prefer someone who is not so antagonistic or belligerent."

Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign who won a resounding electoral victory in 2019 before leading the United Kingdom out of the European Union, announced he was quitting on Thursday after he was abandoned by ministers and most of his Conservative lawmakers over a series of scandals.


07 July 17:59

Tory grandees, Scotland's Sturgeon pressure UK PM Boris Johnson to leave now

Prime Minister Boris Johnson should leave office immediately as Britain cannot afford a drawn-out Conservative contest to replace him, former Tory leader John Major said on Thursday.

Major, prime minister from 1990 to 1997, echoed opposition parties including Labour, which said it wanted a vote of no confidence in parliament rather than letting Johnson stay on for months.


07 July 17:40

What happens now Boris Johnson has quit? A leadership contest with a swift timeline, sources say

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday it was "clearly the will" of the Conservative party to find a new leader, and that the process to decide a replacement "should begin now".

He might not have said the word "resign" but after a bruising week of ministerial resignations, he has at last kicked off the race to find his successor. 

So what happens next? 
Business Insider has the details

07 July 15:41

From Brexit hero 'Partygate': The rise and fall of Boris Johnson

After Theresa May's resignation, Brexit figurehead Johnson is elected head of the Conservative party in July 2019 after a landslide victory over foreign minister Jeremy Hunt.

He is appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II, promising a swift exit from the European Union.

Brexit hero Johnson wins an 80-seat majority in a December 2019 general election, allowing him to ram his Brexit divorce deal through Parliament...
Read the full report

07 July 14:23

07 July 14:22

Below are some reactions to Boris Johnson resigning as Britain's prime minister, bowing to calls from ministerial colleagues and lawmakers in his Conservative Party.


"It is good news for the country that Boris Johnson has resigned as Prime Minister. But it should have happened long ago. He was always unfit for office. He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale."


"I was Team Boris, as the GE (general election) showed he was our star player who connected across traditional political divides. Yes there were ups and downs, but he turbo-charged social mobility and opportunity. His resignation was inevitable. As a Party we must quickly unite and focus on what matters. These are serious times on many fronts."


“I am sad to see Boris Johnson stand down as Prime Minister. He has achieved a huge amount in office, including delivering Brexit, supporting the country through Covid, and leading the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most importantly, he has worked tirelessly to strengthen the Union."


"What a depressing state of affairs. So much needless damage caused. We now need a new Leader as soon as practicable. Someone who can rebuild trust, heal the country, and set out a new, sensible and consistent economic approach to help families. The wheels of Government must continue in the meantime."


"Relief basically. And also sadness at a missed opportunity. A man destroyed by his own fundamental flaws."


"We need Ministers back at their desks. Now PM has finally done the decent thing he needs to hand in the seals of office, apologise to Her Majesty, allow her to appoint a Caretaker under whom Ministers can serve, so the Conservative Party can choose a new leader properly."


"There will be a widespread sense of relief that the chaos of the last few days (indeed months) will come to an end, though notion of Boris Johnson staying on as PM until autumn seems far from ideal, and surely not sustainable?"


"It has been an utter absurdity that the people here have been subjected to Boris Johnson for any length of time. He is a figure of absolute disrepute. Anyone who tries to sabotage our peace agreements, a quarter century of progress and our shared future is truly no friend of ours."


"He doesn't like us, we don't like him either."


"He is one of the main ideologues of the war against Russia until the last Ukrainian. European leaders should think about where such a policy leads."


"Boris Johnson was hit by a boomerang launched by himself ... His comrades-in-arms turned him in. The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia ... Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it - and then choke on them."


"From our point of view, the political developments do not change our position on the (Northern Ireland) protocol or the way in which we work with our British counterparts on Northern Ireland. Our position is that we should endeavour to seek solutions as regards to the implementation of the protocol."

- Reuters

07 July 13:57

Quotes from Boris Johnson's resignation speech:

- "I regret not to have been successful to stay."

- "It is painful not to see my term through."

- "The herd instinct is powerful."

- "In politics no one is indispensable."

- "To the public, I know there will be many who are relieved."

- "I am immensely proud of the achievements of this government."

- Reuters

07 July 13:38

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday quit as Conservative party leader, after three tumultuous years in charge marked by Brexit, Covid and mounting scandals.

Johnson, 58, announced that he would step down after a slew of resignations this week from his top team in protest at his leadership but would stay on as prime minister until a replacement is found.

07 July 13:38

Johnson concludes his statement. 

07 July 13:36

Johnson: In politics, no one is immensely indispensable. To the new leader, I will give you as much support as I can. I want you to know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world.

07 July 13:32

Johnson begins his statement outside Number 10 Downing Street.

07 July 13:04

UK opposition leader Starmer: If Johnson won't go, we'll call a vote of confidence

The opposition Labour Party will call a parliamentary no confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government if his Conservative Party doesn't get rid of him as the leader, Labour Party chief Keir Starmer said in a statement on Thursday.

- Reuters

07 July 13:02

EU says Johnson exit won't change its stance on Northern Ireland impasse

The European Commission declined on Thursday to comment on Boris Johnson's expected resignation as British prime minister and said its stand in a post-Brexit impasse over Northern Ireland would not be affected by political developments in London.

"On the events in the UK ... we have no comment on democratic processes in third countries," a spokesperson for the European Union's executive told a news briefing.

A second spokesperson said there would be no shift in the EU's approach to the Northern Ireland protocol that was part of Britain's divorce agreement with the EU.

"From our point of view, the political developments do not change our position on the protocol or the way in which we work with our British counterparts on Northern Ireland," he said.

"Our position is that we should endeavour to seek solutions as regards to the implementation of the protocol."

Johnson's government has proposed legislation allowing Britain to scrap some of the rules on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, which last week cleared a first parliamentary hurdle.

The EU says the bill is a violation of international law.

- Reuters

07 July 12:57

With Boris Johnson set to quit, how will a new UK prime minister be chosen?

Boris Johnson is set to resign as prime minister on Thursday, triggering a search for a new British leader.


07 July 12:51

07 July 12:51

Clarke appointed UK's new levelling up secretary

British lawmaker Greg Clarke has been appointed as the country's new levelling up secretary, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office said on Thursday.

- Reuters

07 July 12:28

07 July 12:27

UK's Greg Clark to replace Gove as levelling up secretary - Times

British lawmaker and former business minister Greg Clark is set to be announced as the country's new levelling up secretary, a reporter for the Times newspaper said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to resign, sacked Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove late on Wednesday.

- Reuters

07 July 12:22

UK defence minister Ben Wallace front-runner to lead Conservatives, poll finds

British defence minister Ben Wallace was the favourite among Conservative party members to be the next party leader, the results of a YouGov poll showed on Thursday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to resign.

- Reuters

07 July 12:20

Russia hopes 'more professional people' will lead UK

The Kremlin said on Thursday it hoped that "more professional people" would come to power in Britain after the BBC reported Boris Johnson will resign as Conservative party leader.

"We would like to hope that some day in Great Britain more professional people who can make decisions through dialogue will come to power," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"But at the moment there is little hope for that."

Relations between Moscow and London have been bad for years and virtually collapsed after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on 24 February.

Johnson's government has sanctioned dozens of wealthy, Kremlin-connected Russians and says their money is no longer welcome in Britain.


07 July 12:14

UK government paralysis amid mass resignations

The Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take about two months. It was not clear whether Johnson would or could stay on in a caretaker role while the person who would be the new prime minister was chosen.

"As well as resigning as party leader the PM must resign his office," Conservative lawmaker Nick Gibb said.

"After losing so many ministers, he has lost the trust and authority required to continue."

"This is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and most importantly of 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.

- Reuters

07 July 11:57

07 July 11:57

Kremlin on Boris Johnson: we don't like him either

The Kremlin said on Thursday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn't like Russia and that Moscow didn't like him either.

Speaking during a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "He (Johnson) doesn't like us, we don't like him either."

Peskov said that reports that Johnson would shortly resign as prime minister were of little concern for the Kremlin.

- Reuters

07 July 11:52

Scandals which brought Johnson down

The ebullient Johnson came to power nearly three years ago, promising to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union and rescue it from the bitter wrangling that followed the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Since then, some Conservatives had enthusiastically backed the former journalist and London mayor while others, despite reservations, supported him because he was able to appeal to parts of the electorate that usually rejected their party.

That was borne out in the December 2019 election.

But his administration's combative and often chaotic approach to governing and a series of scandals have exhausted the goodwill of many of his lawmakers while opinion polls show he is no longer popular with the public at large.

The recent crisis erupted after lawmaker Chris Pincher, who held a government role involved in pastoral care, was forced to quit over accusations he groped men in a private member's club.

Johnson had to apologise after it emerged that he was briefed that Pincher had been the subject of previous sexual misconduct complaints before he appointed him. The prime minister said he had forgotten.

This followed months of scandals and missteps, including a damning report into boozy parties at his Downing Street residence and office that broke strict Covid-19 lockdown rules and saw him fined by police over a gathering for his 56th birthday.

- Reuters

07 July 11:39

07 July 11:38

Zahawi called for Boris Johnson resignation - a day after being sworn in

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 had gone 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 a bid to reassert his authority.

One ally had told the Sun newspaper that party rebels would "have to dip their hands in blood" to get rid of Johnson.

But by Thursday morning as a slew of resignations poured in, it became clear his position was untenable.

- Reuters

07 July 11:16

UK PM Johnson has spoken to Queen Elizabeth as a courtesy - ITV reporter

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to Queen Elizabeth as a courtesy ahead of an impending announcement about his resignation plan, ITV Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana said on Thursday.

- Reuters

07 July 11:08

07 July 11:07

UK opposition Labour party says PM's expected departure 'good news'

The leader of Britain's main opposition Labour party on Thursday said Boris Johnson's expected departure as prime minister was "good news".

But Keir Starmer added that just changing the leader of the Conservative party was not enough.

"We need a proper change of government," he said.


07 July 10:55

Conservatives will have to elect a new leader

Boris Johnson will announce his resignation as British Prime Minister on Thursday, a government source said, 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.

His Downing Street office confirmed that Johnson would make a statement to the country later.

After days of battling for his job, Johnson had been abandoned by all but a handful of allies after the latest in a series of scandals broke their willingness to support him.

"His resignation was inevitable," Justin Tomlinson, Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party, said on Twitter. 

"As a party we must quickly unite and focus on what matters. These are serious times on many fronts."

The Conservatives will now have to elect a new leader, a process which could take about two months.

- Reuters

07 July 10:50

Stocks enjoy bounce, sterling and FTSE up as Johnson to resign

Equities rose Thursday following a recent sharp drop, though recession fears continue to cast a shadow over markets with the euro stuck around 20-year lows and crude struggling to bounce back from this week's hefty selling.

London's FTSE rose more than 1% and the pound was slightly higher as traders kept an eye on events in Westminster where Boris Johnson was said to have decided to step down as leader of the ruling Conservative Party.

UK stocks were up more than 1% in early trade, while sterling rose toward $1.20, though the currency remains under pressure from an ongoing economic crisis.

Expectations for a contraction in some of the world's leading economies have increased in recent weeks owing to central bank interest rate hikes aimed at taming decades-high inflation, while a new Covid-19 flare-up in China has added to the angst.

The surge in inflation has been caused by soaring energy costs and rising post-lockdown demand, but observers said concerns about a contraction - along with signs that consumers were being put off by high prices - were weighing on the oil market.


07 July 10:47

Leadership to blame for illegal parties at UK Johnson's office

Senior leaders at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office were to blame for a culture that led to illegal parties being held there during coronavirus lockdowns, a report by a senior civil servant said on Wednesday.


07 July 10:37

07 July 10:37

Boris Johnson survives motion of no confidence

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a confidence vote on Monday, seeing off a challenge to his leadership brought by lawmakers within his Conservative Party.


07 July 10:37

Boris Johnson under pressure after complaints of sexual misconduct against former minister

A former top Foreign Office official accused Boris Johnson's office on Tuesday of lying over whether the British leader knew about earlier complaints of sexual misconduct made against a minister who resigned over his behaviour last week.


07 July 10:37

UK PM Boris Johnson to resign on Thursday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will resign on Thursday, several media outlets including the BBC reported.

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