Why is Boris Johnson resigning? Timeline of events that led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson standing down

After a number of scandals, including Partygate, it was Johnson’s handling of allegations made against former deputy chief whip Mr Pincher that finally made the difference.

Boris Johnson is quitting as Tory leader after ministers and MPs made clear his position was untenable. He will remain as Prime Minister until a successor is in place, expected to be by the time of the Conservative Party conference in October.

The resignation comes after the Prime Minister haemorrhaged support among his ministers and MPs. More than 50 MPs have resigned from government or party roles since Tuesday night, when the mass exodus was triggered by the resignations of Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid from the Cabinet.

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The Prime Minister had sought to defy his critics and carry on in office, despite warnings from Cabinet colleagues that this was not sustainable. However, resignations continued and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi - who was only appointed to the role on Tuesday - went public with his call for the Prime Minister to quit.

Here’s a look at the timeline of events that led to Mr Johnson finally announcing his resignation.

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Why is Boris Johnson resigning?

Pressure on Mr Johnson to quit reached boiling point on Wednesday, when a delegation of cabinet ministers, understood to include some of his long-standing allies, were meeting him to urge his resignation. The fresh mutiny comes in the wake of the Prime Minister's handling of allegations made against former deputy chief whip Mr Pincher.

Boris Johnson spoke to the country to confirm his resignation on July 7th. Photo: Daniel Leal/PA.Boris Johnson spoke to the country to confirm his resignation on July 7th. Photo: Daniel Leal/PA.
Boris Johnson spoke to the country to confirm his resignation on July 7th. Photo: Daniel Leal/PA.

Here is a timeline of the events that led up to Wednesday's crisis after reports of the claims against Mr Pincher first emerged:

- June 29 2022: Mr Pincher allegedly behaved inappropriately while drunk on Wednesday night at the Carlton Club, a Tory private members' club in London.

- June 30 2022: Mr Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip as The Sun reported the allegations against him relating to the evening before.

- July 1 2022: The Prime Minister bowed to pressure in the face of an outcry over his delay in suspending the whip against Mr Pincher following the allegations.

Parliament photos of MPs who have resigned from the Government in the 24 hours leading up to Johnson's resignation. Photo: UK Parliament/PA.Parliament photos of MPs who have resigned from the Government in the 24 hours leading up to Johnson's resignation. Photo: UK Parliament/PA.
Parliament photos of MPs who have resigned from the Government in the 24 hours leading up to Johnson's resignation. Photo: UK Parliament/PA.

The move came amid further claims being levelled against Mr Pincher, as well as an investigation being launched into a complaint about his behaviour.

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Downing Street claimed Mr Johnson was not aware of "specific allegations" against Mr Pincher before appointing him deputy chief whip.

- July 2 2022: Mr Johnson was under growing pressure to explain what he knew of the claims before appointing Mr Pincher to the whips' office.

The Prime Minister was alleged to have referred to the former deputy chief whip as "Pincher by name, pincher by nature" before appointing him to the role in February.

Mr Pincher claimed he is seeking "medical support" after getting too drunk, "embarrassing" himself and other people.

- July 3 2022: Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was dispatched to defend the Prime Minister on the morning media round, doubling down on the line that he did not know "specific claims" about the MP.

Fresh allegations emerge in numerous papers about Mr Pincher's alleged behaviour, with Mr Pincher's lawyers denying allegations to the newspapers that carried them.

- July 4 2022: Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson was aware of concerns about the conduct of Chris Pincher when he made him deputy chief whip.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson conceded he had known of "speculation" surrounding the MP, but "no formal complaint at that time".

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- July 5 2022: 7.30am: That line was dramatically upended when Lord Simon McDonald, former permanent secretary in the Foreign Office, publishes a bombshell letter claiming Mr Johnson was briefed "in person" about a formal complaint.

Dominic Raab's morning media round was derailed by the statement, which came minutes after the Deputy Prime Minister claimed he did not believe there was any reason Mr Johnson would have been told.

12.30pm: Labour was granted an urgent question in Parliament to address the growing scandal over the past behaviour of Mr Pincher and what the Prime Minister knew about the allegations.

Tory MPs lined up in the House of Commons to publicly condemn Mr Johnson's handling of the affair, with senior figures urging ministers to consider their positions.

1pm: Mr Johnson failed to remember he had been told that Mr Pincher was the subject of a official complaint about his conduct, Downing Street said.

A trickle of Tory backbenchers began publicly calling for Mr Johnson's resignation, including Anthony Mangnall and Nick Gibb.

Shortly before 6pm: The Prime Minister was forced into a humiliating apology over his handling of the scandal and admitted it was a "mistake" to appoint Mr Pincher to his former role

6.02pm: Sajid Javid resigned from his post as Health Secretary, saying in a letter to the Prime Minister posted on Twitter that the British people "rightly expect integrity from their Government."

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6.11pm: Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak quickly followed suit, citing the public right to expect Government to be conducted "properly, competently and seriously."

A steady stream of resignations followed from elsewhere in Government throughout the evening, while former allies also publicly spoke out against Mr Johnson.

Sir Keir Starmer called for a general election while the Prime Minister returned to Downing Street to attempt damage control.

9.40pm: Mr Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahawi to fill Mr Sunak's post, promoted former Universities Minister Michelle Donelan to Education Secretary and made Steve Barclay Health Secretary in a bid to revive his cabinet.

- July 6 2022: The national mastheads painted a grim picture for the Prime Minister, with The Times' leader saying it would be a "mistake" for him to continue to cling to power.

In the Daily Telegraph, former Brexit minister Lord David Frost added his voice to the chorus of senior figures calling on Mr Johnson to quit, saying he should leave before he takes the Conservative Party "down with him".

The new Chancellor insisted the new Government will be able to "deliver" and said he believes Mr Johnson has integrity on the morning media rounds.

8.25am: Will Quince became the first in a long line of ministers to resign on Wednesday while backbenchers including Lee Anderson, the previously loyalist MP for Ashfield, and Robert Halfon publicly withdraw their support for the Prime Minister.

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12pm: Mr Johnson defied calls to resign during PMQs despite signs that Tory support was ebbing away, citing his "colossal mandate" in 2019 and vowing to "keep going."

Sir Keir branded it a "pathetic spectacle" before new backbencher Mr Javid stood up to deliver a damning resignation speech telling MPs he quit after concluding "enough is enough".

2.25pm: In a joint letter, ministers Kemi Badenoch, Julia Lopez, Mims Davies, Lee Rowley, Neil O'Brien and Alex Burghart announced their resignations and called on the Prime Minister to go.

2.40pm: The Daily Mail reported that cabinet minister Michael Gove told the Prime Minister he must step down.

3pm: The Prime Minister appeared before the Liaison Committee answering questions about his handling of the Pincher affair.

He batted away calls for a general election, suggesting instead Tory MPs should be "loving each other as Conservatives".

A delegation of ministers, reportedly including some his long-standing allies, was meeting with Mr Johnson urging him to resign later in the evening.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was key to the Prime Minister's fight for survival during partygate, were said to be among those calling on him to quit, it is understood.

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Sir Graham Brady was thought to have visited Downing Street to communicate the views of backbenchers following a session of the 1922 committee.

The committee's executive did not make any immediate changes to the rules on Wednesday, but has scheduled elections for its executive committee to take place on Monday, before a result later that evening.

8.15pm: Mr Johnson rejected calls for his resignation after meeting with ministers, said to include Priti Patel, Grant Shapps, Kwasi Kwarteng, Brandon Lewis and Simon Hart in No 10.

9.27pm: Boris Johnson sacked Michael Gove as Levelling Up, Communities and Housing Secretary.

- July 7th 2022: 9.09am: The BBC reports that Boris Johnson is resigning as Conservative Party Leader.

12.30pm: Boris Johnson addresses the country and confirms he will step down as Prime Minister, stating that he is “immensely proud of the achievements of this Government”, from getting Brexit done to getting the UK through the pandemic, and leading the West in standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

Additional reporting by PA.



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