By Biodun Busari
The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned his office on Thursday, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has paralyzed Britain’s government.
Johnson made the official announcement at Downing Street on Thursday. He said he will continue to serve until a new leader emerges.
The former PM has faced a barrage of criticism from all sides over his conduct and that of some members of his government.
The climax of his crisis included illegal, Covid-19 lockdown-breaking parties thrown in his Downing Street offices for which he and others were fined.
Numerous other scandals include accusations of using donor money inappropriately to pay for a refurbishment of his Downing Street home and ordering MPs to vote in such a way that would protect a colleague who had breached lobbying rules.
However, there are reasons that accumulated the downfall of the former PM failed in his leadership style.
The Chris Pincher affair
On Wednesday 29 June, a Member of Parliament, Chris Pincher, who was at that time the Conservative deputy chief whip, went to a private members’ club in London. In his words, he “drank far too much” and “embarrassed himself”.
Downing Street disclosed that Johnson did not pay attention to “specific allegations” about Pincher before appointing him as deputy chief whip in February.
On 4 July, the BBC reported Johnson had been aware of a formal complaint. The next day, a former civil servant – Lord McDonald – said the prime minister had been told of the complaint in person.
Johnson then admitted he had been told in 2019, and apologised for appointing Pincher as deputy chief whip.
In April 2022, the former prime minister was fined for breaking lockdown rules, after attending a gathering on his birthday in June 2020.
He also apologised for going to a “bring your own booze” party in the Downing Street garden during the first lockdown.
More widely, the Metropolitan Police issued 126 fines to 83 people for breaking lockdown rules in Downing Street and Whitehall.
And a report by, a senior civil servant, Sue Gray described a series of social events by political staff that broke lockdown rules.
“The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture,” she wrote.
Last December, Johnson told the Commons that “all guidance was followed completely in No 10”. Then, he is currently being probed by a Commons committee over whether he intentionally misled Parliament.
The cost of living crisis – and a tax rise
Inflation has risen sharply in 2022, to the current rate of 9.1%.
Many of the inflation’s reasons are were not directly under Johnson’s control. A good example is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has led to rises in oil prices and the cost of food.
And, while the government has taken some steps – for example, by cutting fuel duty by 5p per litre – it also went ahead with a tax rise in April. National Insurance went up by 1.25 pence in the pound.
The government said the tax increase would pay for health and social care, and changes that kicked in this week moderated the burden – but anyone earning more than £34,000 a year will still pay more.
“In the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for decades,” said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in April, “the government chooses to increase taxes on working people”.
Owen Paterson vs Boris Johnson
In October 2021, a House of Commons committee recommended a 30-day suspension for then-Conservative MP Owen Paterson.
The committee said he broke lobbying rules, to try to benefit companies who paid him.
But the Conservatives – led by the prime minister – voted to pause his suspension, and set up a new committee to look at how investigations were carried out.
After an uproar, Paterson ended up resigning. Johnson later admitted he had “crashed the car” in his handling of the case.
Unclear visions and ideas
Boris Johnson won his thumping majority on the back of a clear, easy-to-follow policy – Get Brexit Done.
But since then, his critics said, there was a lack of focus and ideas in Downing Street.
His ex-adviser turned chief critic, Dominic Cummings, repeatedly accused him of being an out-of-control shopping trolley, veering from position to position.
Others questioned the prime minister’s philosophy – or, indeed, if he had one. In June, Conservative MP and former minister Jeremy Hunt accused Johnson of lacking “integrity, competence, and vision”.
Hunt was speaking before a confidence vote, which ex-PM won – but the complaints were getting louder.
The by-election defeats kept coming. After the latest, Johnson said he would not undergo a “psychological transformation”.
But that, now, is not the concern of Conservative MPs. They have spoken, and the prime minister is gone.