British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

After an open revolt against him, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party on Thursday afternoon. But he wants to continue as prime minister until a successor is elected, Johnson said in London on Thursday. He was sad to have to give up the best job in the world.

However, numerous party friends are calling for the 58-year-old to step down as head of government immediately. The opposition is demanding a new election.

The government crisis in London had worsened on Thursday. Johnson increasingly lost support. Several cabinet members and dozens of parliamentary government officials resigned from their posts.

Even Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed to office on Tuesday, had publicly called for Johnson to resign. “Prime Minister, in your heart you know what is right. Go now,” Zahawi wrote in a letter to Johnson published on Twitter.

So far there is no clear favorite in the race to succeed Johnson. Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed to office on Tuesday, is considered a possible successor, as are Foreign Minister Liz Truss and Trade Minister Penny Mardaunt. According to a YouGov poll, she has the second best chance of becoming party leader.

Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace is the top favorite. That’s according to a poll of Tory members released on Thursday. Wallace gained popularity in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. The 52-year-old former officer is considered to be straightforward and competent. So far, only Attorney General Suella Braverman has officially announced her candidacy.

Labor leader Keir Starmer welcomed Johnson’s expected resignation. It’s “good news,” Starmer told the British news agency PA. He added, “But it should have happened a long time ago.”

On Wednesday evening, a close Johnson confidant announced that the prime minister would not give up. “The Prime Minister is in an optimistic mood and will fight on,” Johnson’s parliamentary assistant James Duddridge told Sky News. Johnson got the mandate of the voters in the last general election and “so much to do for the country”. But holding on to power hardly seems possible in view of the massive headwind. On Thursday, the BBC reported, citing government circles, of Johnson’s impending resignation announcement.

If necessary, British media reported, Johnson should be removed from office by a vote of no confidence. The Tory politician narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in his group just a month ago. Another no-confidence vote would have required a change in the internal party rules. It was initially expected that Johnson would take a chance. But on Thursday the pressure was apparently too great.

The most recent government crisis in Westminster was triggered by an affair involving Johnson’s party colleague Chris Pincher, who is accused of sexual harassment. It was previously revealed that Johnson knew about the allegations against Pincher before he promoted him to a key faction position. His spokesman had previously denied this several times.

The affair now turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Johnson has been under massive criticism for months for illegal lockdown parties during the pandemic at Downing Street, the seat of government. He himself received a police warrant for attending one of the illegal gatherings, making him the first British head of government to have committed a criminal offense while in office. Nevertheless, he denied any wrongdoing for a long time. (dpa/Reuters/AFP)