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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday.
Johnson said he would stay until the Conservative party picked a new leader, despite several people, including his last two cabinet appointments, urging him to step down immediately amid ethical scandals. Dozens of ministers and officials from his Conservative government resigned this week.
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British Treasury Chief Nadhim Zahawi – one of Johnson’s closest allies – told him to step down Thursday for the good of the country, just two days after he was appointed by the prime minister.
“Prime Minister: this is not sustainable and will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative Party and, above all, for the whole country,” Zahawi said in a letter to Johnson. “You have to do the right thing and go now.”
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Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, also appointed Tuesday after her predecessor’s resignation, announced her resignation Thursday morning.
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Zahawi was also named after his predecessor’s resignation.
As recently as Wednesday, the prime minister was rebellious, claiming he has a mandate from the voters.
A group of Johnson’s most trusted cabinet ministers visited him at his Downing Street office Wednesday, telling him to step down after losing his party’s confidence. But Johnson instead decided to fight for his political career and fired one of the government officials, Michael Gove, according to British media reports.
Five cabinet ministers had resigned by Thursday and more than 50 officials have left in the past two days since the latest scandal broke. Johnson is accused of lying about not being aware of the groping allegations against a man he has appointed government minister.
Johnson’s biggest scandal, Partygate, undermined his trust with voters during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson was among party members attending parties at 10 Downing Street and elsewhere, while health restrictions prohibited gatherings for ordinary citizens.
“I just told him, ‘Look, it’s only when you go now, and that’s how you go,” Bernard Jenkin, a senior Conservative Party lawmaker, told the BBC who told Johnson on Wednesday. “You can go with some dignity or you can be forced to leave like Donald Trump, holding on to power and pretending to have won the election when he lost.”
Weeks earlier Johnson narrowly survived a no-confidence vote from his own Conservative party.
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“We are … past the point of no return. I cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to stand up for things as they stand now,” Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said in his resignation letter Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is breaking news. Check again for updates.