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UK Prime Minister Boris set to resign

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks at Downing Street in London. [Reuters]

Boris Johnson is set to resign as the Conservative Party leader today.

According to the British press, Boris will stand down as the Conservative Party leader but continue to serve as the prime minister until autumn.

According to BBC, the impending resignation comes after Johnson lost the support of his ministers and MPs.

By today morning, several media outlets had reported that over 51 ministers had resigned.

A Conservative leadership contest will take place this summer and a new prime minister will be in place in time for the party conference in October.

It started by the resignation of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid over protests at how the PM had handled allegations of misconduct against a prominent Conservative Party lawmaker.

Johnson had defied pressure to quit on Wednesday from senior ministers and a mounting rebellion within his ruling Conservative Party, saying he will fight off any attempts to oust him over a series of scandals, Reuters reports.

After more than 40 resignations from within the government and with many Conservative lawmakers in open revolt, some cabinet ministers went to Downing Street to tell Johnson he needed to go, a source said.

One encouraged him to make a dignified exit by setting his own timetable rather than face a confidence vote. Many lawmakers said it was now a question of when, not if, he has to go.

On Wednesday night, the attorney general for England and Wales, Suella Braverman, called on Johnson to resign and became the first cabinet minister to say they would run to replace him in any Conservative Party leadership contest.

"I do think the time has come for the prime minister to step down," Braverman said on ITV. She said she did not want to resign from her post. "If there is a leadership contest I will put my name into the ring."

Dozens have publicly criticised Johnson's integrity after he was forced to apologise for appointing a lawmaker to a role involved in pastoral care, and had not recalled being briefed that the minister had been the subject of complaints about sexual misconduct.

It is the latest crisis to hit his administration after months of scandals and missteps, including a damning report into parties at his Downing Street residence and office that broke strict COVID-19 lockdown rules and saw him fined by police.

But despite the clamour for him to resign, James Duddridge, a Conservative lawmaker and close aide of Johnson, told Sky News the British leader "is buoyant, he is up for a fight" after a meeting with members of his top cabinet team.

Duddridge said Johnson and the newly-appointed finance minister Nadhim Zahawi would set out a new joint plan for the economy next week which would include tax cuts.

Johnson sacked Michael Gove, a senior minister who media earlier said had told the British leader he should quit. On Wednesday night, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart joined those resigning.

Earlier Johnson told a parliamentary committee: "I am not going to step down and the last thing this country needs, frankly, is an election."

Johnson said had a mandate from the 2019 national election, which he won with a large majority, and it would not be responsible to walk away from the job in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and war in Europe. Johnson has been a visible supporter of Ukraine following Russia's invasion in late February.

Johnson also refused to say if he would try to stay in the job even if he lost a confidence vote from his own lawmakers. That could come next week if they agree to change the party's rules, which only allow one such challenge a year. He narrowly won a similar vote last month.

 How does a prime minister resign?

According to an article by The Guardian, a car takes them to Buckingham Palace, where they tender their resignation to the Queen, who then, on the advice of the ruling party appoints a new prime minister.

This most usually happens after general elections, although in recent years, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May have stood down in mid-parliament. All stayed in office until a successor was chosen.

Could Johnson call an election?

The article states that since the  Fixed-term Parliaments Act has been repealed, under law an election can be requested by the PM at any time and speaking to the liaison committee of MPs on Wednesday, Johnson hinted he could do this if colleagues try to force him out.

But to seek an election without the blessing of the government or the bulk of your own MPs would be constitutionally very unusual, and would be fiercely resisted. Under a constitutional convention known as the Lascelles principle, a monarch can refuse a request for an election for reasons including if the parliament is still deemed “viable”, if an election could harm the economy, or if a credible alternative PM existed.

How would a new prime minister be chosen?

By Conservative MPs and then members – the choice is for a leader of the Tory party, who is then prime minister as the party has a Commons majority.

Under rules set out in 1997, the first stage is assuming there are more than two candidates for the hopefuls to be whittled down by a series of votes by Tory MPs.

The precise method for this is set out by the party’s backbench 1922 Committee before each race, but in every round of MP voting, the candidate with the least support among MPs, and potentially also those who fail to reach a set threshold of votes, are eliminated, depending on the size of the parliamentary party at the time.

The final two are then voted on by party members, a longer process involving a series of hustings events. In 2019, when Johnson replaced Theresa May, the entire leadership process took about six weeks.

Reports by  The Guardian, Reuters and BBC