After facing a torrent of resignation letters from his ministers in the last 24 hours, the bucking bronco that is Boris Johnson has finally swallowed his pride and will today resign as leader of the Conservative Party.
It has been a tumultuous 48 hours for the Prime Minister, whose downfall began with the bombshell resignations of two of his most senior ministers, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, within the space of ten minutes on Tuesday evening. Boris Johnson has been scrambling to fill the positions of his government ever since, as he cited his “colossal mandate” from voters at the 2019 election. Yet his desperate attempt to cling to a position that was no longer tenable was met with further furore.
And what had first appeared to be a trickle of resignations from a gaggle of junior ministers soon began to swell into a biblical flood. This morning alone, the clock had barely struck nine, and there were six more ministerial resignations, a leadership bid and one public refusal to take a cabinet post.
His newly-appointed education secretary, Michelle Donelan, quit, and the newly-appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi told the prime minister to “do the right thing and go.” Staggeringly, this meant that in a mere 48 hours, Boris Johnson suffered more ministerial resignations than any other prime minister in modern history – one for the Guinness World Records.
It soon became clear that the PM had a choice between igniting the flames for a constitutional crisis or admitting it was curtains. The long-awaited news then broke that Boris Johnson had spoken to the Tory 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady and agreed to resign but that he hoped to stay in office until the autumn while a leadership contest takes place to find his successor.
In the hours since, the pound has risen against the dollar, gaining 0.4 per cent, to $1.197, as traders priced in the prospect of ending months of chaos under Johnson’s leadership. As the pound climbs up, the PM will begin his climb down, and he is expected to formally announce his departure this lunchtime.
Whether Boris Johnson will use the epoch-making speech to sing of his achievements, cite Shakespearean verse or announce that he will be making a comeback in the next round of leadership elections, remains to be seen.
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary