'Them's the breaks': Boris Johnson agrees to quit as UK prime minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party, giving up a desperate battle to cling onto the leadership.

He said he would stay on as prime minister until a new leader was chosen, with a timetable for the Conservative leadership battle to be announced next week.


Johnson on Thursday gave a brief speech outside 10 Downing Street admitting it was "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".


"I know that there will be many people who are relieved and quite a few 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."


Johnson said it was "painful" to lose the job and pledged to support the party's next leader as much as he could but did not offer an apology to his colleagues or a direct acknowledgement of any of their criticisms.


"As we've seen in Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful," he said.


"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."


Johnson also lamented his failure to convince his colleagues to stick by him with the party "only a handful of points behind in the polls".


"I know that there will be many people who are relieved and quite a few will also be disappointed," he said.


"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."


Until Thursday, Johnson had rebuffed calls by his cabinet to step down in the wake of ethics scandals. He finally gave in after more than 50 ministers had quit his government and told him to go.


Johnson's decision to stay on as prime minister until a new Tory leader could be elected was immediately criticised by this political opponents.


Opposition Leader Keir Starmer said the country needed a "change of government and a fresh start for Britain", not just a change of Tory leadership.


"He needs to go completely," he said.


"None of this nonsense about clinging on for a few months. He's inflicted lies fraud and chaos in the country.


"And, you know, we're stuck with a government which isn't functioning in the middle of a cost of living crisis.


"And all of those that have been propping him up should be utterly ashamed of themselves."

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Johnson's was a premiership characterised by "chaos and lack of integrity" before descending in recent days into "utter farce".


I think first and foremost, there will be an overwhelming and very widespread sense of relief that Boris Johnson's time as prime minister, which should probably never have been allowed to happen in the first place, is coming to an end," she said.


"I do think it is quite incredible though to suggest that he will remain as prime minister for another three to four months.


"The sooner he is out of Number 10, and preferably that is today, the better."


Source: 9News