7th July, 2022
UK Conservatives have kicked against Boris Johnson remaining as caretaker prime minister after being forced to resign on Thursday amid a slew of scandals.
Five Conservative member of parliament demanded he resign on Thursday and said another minister should take over during a process that could take weeks because he has lost the authority after more than 50 people quit government.
Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, would be a suitable replacement, two senior Conservative lawmakers said.
“We need to be rid of Boris as soon as possible. He’s too toxic. Raab as interim prime minister would be acceptable,” one Conservative lawmaker said.
Johnson’s decision to quit marks the end of a political career in which he led Britain out of the European Union and took his Conservative Party to the largest election victory in three decades.
Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the Conservative Party needed a new leader as soon as feasible, and insisted the government must continue to operate.
A snap YouGov poll found that defence minister Ben Wallace was the favourite among Conservative Party members to replace Johnson, followed by junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt and former finance minister Rishi Sunak.
Many said he should leave immediately and hand over to his deputy, Dominic Raab, saying he had lost the trust of his party.
Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said he would call a parliamentary confidence vote if the Conservatives did not remove Johnson at once.
“If they don’t get rid of him, then Labour will step up in the national interest and bring a vote of no confidence because we can’t go on with this prime minister clinging on for months and months to come,” he said.
The crisis comes as Britons are facing the tightest squeeze on their finances in decades, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with soaring inflation, and the economy forecast to be the weakest among major nations in 2023 apart from Russia.
It also follows years of internal division sparked by the narrow 2016 vote to leave the European Union, and threats to the make-up of the United Kingdom itself with demands for another Scottish independence referendum, the second in a decade.
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.