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The long goodbye: Boris Johnson will stay as PM until a successor is chosen as he prepares to let go of 'best job in the world'

By Scott Maclennan

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Going but not gone – Boris Johnson has said he will step down as Prime Minister but only when his successor has been chosen so will stay in office for months to come.

He was forced into the move after a remarkable week that saw the biggest wave of resignations in British political history – including dozens of ministers, aides, and private secretaries.

News broke of his departure this morning and almost immediately calls emerged for him to depart Downing Street without delay but he intends to remain Prime Minister he is replaced.

In his statement outside No 10, Mr Johnson rebuffed calls for him to go, saying: “I have today appointed a cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place.”

That is despite MP after MP lining up to call for Mr Johnson to relinquish power immediately, among them two from the Highlands.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Mr Stone said Mr Johnson is a "compulsive liar."

"Make no mistake. There was no honour, no dignity, no pride to be taken in Boris Johnson’s resignation this morning," he said.

“There should be no question of Boris Johnson staying on as caretaker Prime Minister. He is manifestly unfit for the job.

“The Conservatives must use the momentum from their newfound backbone and elect a different interim Prime Minister.”

The Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP, Mr Hendry said: “Lie after lie, from partying whilst people were losing loved ones, uttering the words 'let the bodies pile high', to the illegal prorogation Parliament, his character was on full display at every turn.

"He can't stay in place any longer, he has to go and he has to go now. Any attempt to hang on, even for a minute longer is unacceptable."

On not wishing to leave

"The reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you, to continue to do what we promised in 2019.

"And of course, I immensely proud of the achievement of this government from getting Brexit done, to settling our relations with the continent for over half a century, reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in Parliament, getting us all through the pandemic, delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, the fastest exit from lockdown and in the last few months leading the west in standing up to Putin's aggression in Ukraine."

Ukraine and Levelling Up

"And let me say now, to the people of Ukraine, that I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes.

"At the same time, in this country, we've been pushing forward a vast program of investment in infrastructure and skills and technology. The biggest in a century.

"Because if I have one insight into human beings, it is the genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed throughout the population. But opportunity is not. And that's why we must keep levelling-up, keep unleashing the potential of every part of the United Kingdom. And if we could do that in this country, we will be the most prosperous in Europe."

Eccentric Herd Instinct

"And in the last few days I've tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we're delivering so much when we have such a vast mandate and when we're actually only a handful of the points behind in the polls, even in midterm after quite a few months of pretty relentless sledging and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally.

"I regret not being successful in those arguments and of course, it's painful and not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself. But as we've seen, the herd instinct at Westminster is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves and, my friends, in politics, no one is remotely indispensable."

Thems the Breaks

"And to you, the British public, I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps 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."

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