UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday he would quit as British prime minister after he was abandoned by ministers and most of his Conservative lawmakers.
In a televised address on the steps of Number 10, Johnson said that he had agreed with Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, that “the process of electing that new leader should now begin”.
But he will remain in the role until a successor is identified, Johnson said. The schedule would be confirmed next week, he added.
In a typically upbeat speech, surrounded by supporters including his wife Carrie, Johnson said he had tried to persuade colleagues that it would be “eccentric” to change leaders at the moment, noting that the Conservatives are “only a few points” behind in the polls.
“I regret I was unsuccessful in those arguments,” he added.
The prime minister said the process to find his new replacement should start “immediately” and that the timetable for doing so would be announced next week.
Announcing his resignation outside 10 Downing Street, with his wife Carrie looking on, he said he wants Britons “to know how sad he is to give up the best job in the world.”
More than 50 MPs have resigned from government or party roles since Tuesday night, when the mass exodus was triggered by the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid from the Cabinet.
The Prime Minister had sought to defy his critics and carry on in office, despite warnings from Cabinet colleagues that this was not sustainable.
But resignations continued and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi – who was only appointed to the role on Tuesday – went public with his call for the Prime Minister to quit.
The timetable for the Tory leadership contest will be agreed between the 1922 Committee, which runs the parliamentary proceedings to whittle the candidates down to two, and Conservative headquarters.