U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned Thursday, bringing an acrimonious end to a nearly three-year premiership that has been beset by controversy and scandal.
Speaking outside Downing Street, Johnson said the process for choosing the new leader of the Conservative Party should begin now, with a timetable to be announced next week. He said he intends to remain in place until a new Tory leader is elected.
His decision to remain in office comes despite a clear lack of support from within his own party and a growing push across the political spectrum for him to step down immediately.
Johnson said he was “sad to be giving up the best job in the world,” but conceded that “no one is remotely indispensable” in politics.
Referring to members of his own ruling party who turned against him, Johnson said: “At Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.”
Johnson thanked his wife Carrie Johnson, his children, the National Health Service, armed forces and Downing Street staff. “Above all, I want to thank you, the British public, for the immense privilege that you have given me.”
He concluded his roughly six-minute speech by seeking to strike an upbeat tone. “Even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden.”
It comes as the wave of resignations from Johnson’s government and party since Tuesday evening approached 60, with one Conservative Party member after another publicly voicing their lack of confidence in the prime minister.
Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi was the latest of Johnson’s allies to urge him to “go now,” saying the unprecedented political crisis over his future was not sustainable and would “only get worse.”
Remarkably, Zahawi’s call for Johnson to step down came just two days after the prime minister appointed him finance minister.