‘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 PM and I’ve agreed with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of our backbench MPs, that process of choosing that leader should begin now.
‘The timetable will be announced next week. I have today appointed a Cabinet to serve, as I will, until a new leader is in place.
‘I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019, many of them voting Conservative for the first time, thank you for that incredible mandate, the biggest Conservative mandate since 1987, the biggest share of a vote since 1979.
‘The reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person is not just because I wanted to do so but because I thought it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019 …
‘Let me say now to the people of Ukraine, we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes. At the same time in this country, we’ve been pushing forward a vast programme for infrastructure and skills, technology, the biggest in a century because if I have one insight into human beings it’s the genius, talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed through the population but opportunity is not and that’s why we must keep levelling up, keep unleashing the potential of every part of the UK. If we can do that we will be the most prosperous in Europe.
‘I have been trying to tell my colleagues it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much and have such a vast mandate and actually only a handful of points behind in the polls when we’re midterm and after quite a few months of relentless sledging and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally.
‘I regret not being successful in those arguments and of course it’s painful not to see through so many ideas and projects myself.
‘As we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.
‘My friends in politics, no-one is remotely indispensable.
‘Our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader equally committed to taking us through tough times not just helping families to get through it but changing and improving the way we do things, cutting the burdens on businesses and yes, cutting taxes because that’s the way to generate the growth and income we need to pay for great public services.
‘To that new leader, whoever he or she may be, I say that I will give you as much support as I can. To you, the British public, I know there will be many people who will be relieved and quite a few disappointed, I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world but them’s the breaks.
He concluded: ‘Above all, I want to thank you, the British public for the immense privilege you have given me. I want you to know that from now on until the new Prime Minister is in place, your interests will be served and the government of the country will be carried on.
‘Being Prime Minister is an education in itself. I’ve travelled to every part of the UK and in addition to the beauty of our natural world I’ve found so many people possessed of such boundless British originality and so willing to tackle old problems in new ways, even if things can sometimes seem dark now our future together is golden. Thank you very much.’
Johnson is expected to carry on as the acting Premier, until he is replaced.