U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces he’s stepping down after half his government resigns

On Tuesday, two of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top cabinet officials handed in their resignations.

Within two days, 59 cabinet ministers had resigned. And on Thursday, Johnson himself announced he was stepping down.

“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister, and I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench [members of Parliament], that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now and the timetable will be announced next week,” Johnson said in remarks from Downing Street.

So how did it all happen? According to The New York Times, Johnson’s administration has been wracked by scandal in recent months.

“The latest crisis was spurred by Mr. Johnson’s handling of a case involving Chris Pincher, a Conservative lawmaker who is accused of having groped two men at a private members’ club in London while he was drunk,” the outlet said.

According to reports, Johnson was aware of those accusations before appointing Pincher to a position in his government.

“That led to the abrupt departures this week of two senior cabinet ministers: the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the health secretary, Sajid Javid,” The Times added.

“Their resignations appeared to have broken the dam of rebellion against Mr. Johnson by members of his party that has been building for months. It was precipitated by embarrassing reports of parties at Downing Street that violated the government’s own coronavirus lockdown rules.”

By Thursday, roughly half of Johnson’s government had resigned, according to Axios.

What comes next?

“In the election process, Conservative MPs nominate their preferred candidate. There is then a run-off with the two most popular candidates, and then Conservative Party members (of the card-carrying, fee-paying kind), vote on who they want to be the next leader,” ABC News reported.

According to polls, U.S. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is an early favorite to replace Johnson. But it could be a while.

“To put the transition into perspective, when Theresa May announced her resignation on the steps of Downing Street on May 24, 2019, Johnson, her successor, did not take office until July 24 — a gap of two months,” ABC said.