Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he would resign as the UK’s prime minister, saying it is “now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister.”
However, Johnson said he will continue as prime minister “until the new leader is in place.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “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?
“Boris Johnson was always manifestly unfit to be PM and the Tories should never have elected him leader or sustained him in office for as long as they have. But the problems run much deeper than one individual. The Westminster system is broken.
“For Scotland, the democratic deficit inherent in Westminster government doesn’t get fixed with a change of PM.
“None of the alternative Tory PMs would ever be elected in Scotland. And in policy terms, it is hard to see what real difference hard Brexit supporting Labour offers.
“Independence only happens if a majority living in Scotland choose it – but there is no doubt it offers the real and permanent alternative to Westminster, and the opportunity to fulfil our potential at home and play our part as a good global citizen. It’s time for that choice.
“Lastly, my differences with Boris Johnson are many and profound. But leadership is difficult and brings with it many stresses and strains, and so on a personal level I wish him and his family well.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s former Brexit coordinator, wrote on Twitter: “Boris Johnson’s reign ends in disgrace, just like his friend Donald Trump.
“The end of an era of transatlantic populism? Let’s hope so.
“EU – UK relations suffered hugely with Johnson’s choice of Brexit. Things can only get better.”
Michel Barnier, the European Union’s former chief negotiator, wrote on Twitter: “The departure of Boris Johnson opens a new page in relations with the UK.
“May it be more constructive, more respectful of commitments made, in particular regarding peace & stability in Northern Ireland, and more friendly with partners in the EU.”
Andrew Goodwin, Chief UK Economist, Oxford Economics: “We face a policy vacuum at a time when the economic outlook is fragile and the cost-of-living crisis continues to escalate.
“We’re unlikely to see any further fiscal support for struggling households in the near future, which adds downside risk to growth and is likely to stop the BoE from increasing the pace of rate hikes.”
Here is the full text of the speech Johnson made outside Downing Street:
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister, and I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week.
“And I’ve today appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will, until the new leader is in place.
“So I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019, many of them voting Conservative for the first time: ‘Thank you for that incredible mandate, the biggest Conservative majority since 1987, the biggest share of the vote since 1979.’
“And the reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019.
“And of course, I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this government: from getting Brexit done to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century, reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in parliament, getting us all through the pandemic, delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, the fastest exit from lockdown, and in the last few months, leading the West in standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
“And let me say now, to the people of Ukraine, that I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes.
“And at the same time, in this country, we’ve been pushing forward a vast programme of investment in infrastructure and skills and technology, the biggest in a century. Because if I have one insight into human beings, it is that genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed throughout the population but opportunity is not.
“And that’s why we must keep levelling up, keep unleashing the potential in every part of the United Kingdom. And if we could do that, in this country, we will be the most prosperous in Europe.
“And in the last few days, I’ve tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate and when we’re actually only a handful of points behind in the polls, even in midterm after quite a few months of pretty relentless sledging and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally.
“And I regret not to have been successful in those arguments, and of course it’s painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself. But as we’ve seen at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.
“And my friends, in politics, no one is remotely indispensable, and our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader, equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times, not just helping families to get through it but changing and improving the way we do things, cutting burdens on businesses and families and yes, cutting taxes, because that is the way to generate the growth and the income we need to pay for great public services.
“And to that new leader, I say wherever he or she may be, I say I will give you as much support as I can.
“And to you, the British public, I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few who will also be disappointed. And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.
“I want to thank Carrie and our children, all members of my family who have had to put up with so much, for so long.
“I want to thank the peerless British civil service for all the help and support that you have given our police, our emergency services, and of course, our fantastic NHS who at a critical moment helped to extend my own period in office, as well as our armed services and our agencies that are so admired around the world, and our indefatigable Conservative Party members and supporters whose selfless campaigning makes our democracy possible.
“I want to thank the wonderful staff here at Number 10 and of course Chequers, and our fantastic prop force detectives, the one group, by the way, who never leak.
“Above all I want to thank you, the British public for the immense privilege that you have given me. And I want you to know that from now on, until the new prime minister is in place, your interests will be served and the government of the country will be carried on.
“Being Prime Minister is an education in itself. I’ve travelled to every part of the United Kingdom and in addition to the beauty of our natural world, I found so many people possessed of such boundless British originality and so willing to tackle old problems in new ways that I know that even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden.
“Thank you all very much.”