Boris Johnson is the third Conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom to have been forced to resign in just six years, either due to internal disputes over Europe or scandals.
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David Cameron, Theresa May and now Johnson have resigned as leaders of the Conservative Party and, therefore, as heads of government since June 2016.
Cameron resigned on June 24, 2016, abruptly ending his term after UK voters made the momentous decision to leave the European Union (EU). Cameron had campaigned for retention.
In 2013, Cameron had promised to hold a referendum on whether to stay or leave the European club after the deep divisions this issue had caused in his party.
Despite his campaign in favor of the EU, Cameron ran into the Brexit campaign promoted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the most visible faces of support for leaving the EU. A few hours after the Brexit triumph was known, Cameron left the Downing Street residence to announce his resignation.
After an internal election in the Conservative Party, May took the reins of the formation in July 2016 and promised to comply with the decision of the electorate to materialize Brexit.
Brexit ended up completely defining his nearly three years in office, as his plans to deliver failed multiple times.
In 2017, he called a surprise general election but lost a majority and suffered humiliating defeats in Parliament in Westminster when the withdrawal agreement he agreed with the EU was rejected three times.
Conservative MPs unhappy with her Brexit politics pushed for an internal vote to challenge her leadership in 2018, but May managed to win it.
However, this failed to quell opposition within the ranks. Tories and several ministers resigned in protest, until he finally gave in to pressure and resigned on May 24, 2019.
After an internal election in the Conservative Party, Johnson came to power on July 24, 2019. The British leader was always a controversial figure but had the support of his formation for his charisma and his ability to attract voters, as well as his determination to deliver Brexit.
Conservative grievances with Johnson’s leadership began to mount in earnest last November, when the prime minister attempted to reform the standards system in the lobbying scandal of MP Owen Paterson.
This was followed by a steady trickle of scandals, such as “partygate”, the parties in Downing Street during the pandemic, as well as accusations of misleading Parliament when it said at the time that it had not breached the anti-COVID restrictions in force.
His authority was damaged in an internal vote last month, in which 41% of his deputies withdrew their support. The latest scandal has been the case of MP Chris Pincher, accused of sexual harassment of two men in an exclusive private club in London, but his inappropriate behavior had already been the subject of an official investigation a few years ago.
Johnson was accused of lying when he said a few days ago that he was not aware of that investigation, something that did not turn out to be true. This latest scandal has damaged the reputation of Johnson, who has agreed to resign after more than 50 members of his government submitted their resignations.