British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to announce Thursday that he would resign, having spent days defying calls for him to stand down from dozens of fellow Conservative Party members and even senior ministers he had only appointed within the last 36 hours.
On Thursday morning there was quiet anticipation outside No.10 Downing Street, the gated official residence and office of the prime minister. A phalanx of press waited in a cordon across the other side of the street, aiming their cameras and shouting questions at even the most junior, unknown official walking in or out.
After a fresh wave of high-profile resignations, U.K. media including the BBC reported that Johnson had finally agreed to resign.
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Johnson would make a statement to the country later on Thursday.
In a remarkable twist, Johnson was abandoned by the finance minister and education minister he had just promoted in a bid to hold on. They were joined by a succession of other ministers — leaving the government virtually rudderless as it faces some of its most serious crises in decades.
As the resignations continued to roll in, Johnson remained cloistered inside the grey-bricked pre-Georgian official residence, defying precedent and the urging of some of his closest allies.
Months of discontent over Johnson’s judgment and ethics within his governing Conservative Party erupted with the resignations of Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid within minutes of each other on Tuesday evening.
The final straw for them was the prime minister’s shifting explanations about his handling of sexual misconduct allegations within Conservative ranks.
More than 50 members of the government resigned in the hours after Tuesday evening.