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Why is Boris Johnson resigning as UK prime minister?

Boris Johnson resigned as British prime minister on Thursday amid growing pressure from fellow Conservative Party members over his handling of a number of issues. 

“I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few who 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,” Johnson said outside of 10 Downing St.

Johnson, who served less than three years as prime minister and ushered in Great Britain’s “Brexit” split with the European Union, was booed during his remarks. 

Here’s a summary of the controversies that led to Johnson’s downfall

Chris Pincher controversy

The basic reason Johnson had to step down is that he lost the support and trust of his own Conservative Party.

Over the last few days, high-ranking officials throughout his government have resigned in an effort to pressure Johnson to step down.

Some officials promoted to replace those resigning also quickly called for Johnson to step down, including Michelle Donelan, who had been tapped on Tuesday to serve as education minister and resigned by Thursday.

A series of controversies led to the Conservative Party unrest with Johnson, with the final straw for some being the prime minister’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, who was appointed deputy chief whip earlier this year by Johnson.

Pincher allegedly groped two men at a London club last week while drunk. When those allegations surfaced, questions were raised about past complaints about inappropriate behavior by Pincher and whether Johnson had known about them when he appointed Pincher to his new post.

Johnson’s office initially said he wasn’t aware of the past allegations, but the U.K. prime minister later acknowledged he did know of them and apologized.

This tied into other complaints about Johnson, including whether he told the truth to the public and government officials.

“The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country,” Sajid Javid, the former U.K. British health and social care secretary, said in his resignation on Tuesday. “Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent on acting in the national interest.”

“Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither.”

Pandemic ‘partygate’

The dilemma of what Johnson knew and when was also a feature in the “partygate” scandal over gatherings Johnson and others took part in during the pandemic while COVID-19 restrictions had been in place.

Speaking to the House of Commons in April, he claimed he did not know that a gathering for a birthday he attended was considered a party — comments that were blasted at the time as “a joke” and “half-hearted” by Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.

Johnson and 82 others were fined in one police investigation alone, making Johnson the first sitting prime minister to receive fines.

Johnson later said he took “full responsibility for everything that took place” following senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report on the gatherings while later calling on the public to move onward, according to the wire service.

A refurbished flat, paid for by Conservative Party donor

Johnson also claimed he did not know that David Brownlow, a Conservative Party donor, had donated thousands of pounds that would later go toward renovating the U.K. prime minister’s flat, according to Politico Europe.

David Brownlow, a Conservative Party donor, made a donation to help cover the costs of the refurbishing after a trust that was expected to be set up to cover those costs was found to take too much time to establish.

Because the donation was not properly reported, the Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party 17,800 pounds.

“Despite the prime minister and Lord Brownlow having some limited contact during the following three months, the record shows no evidence that the prime minister had been informed by Lord Brownlow that he had personally settled the total cost,” a spokesperson for Johnson said in December, according to The Guardian.

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