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Boris Johnson to resign as Tory leader but hopes to stay on as PM | Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is to resign on Thursday as Conservative leader but will push to stay on as prime minister until autumn after his chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, called on him to go and a string of cabinet ministers walked out.

His resignation brings to an end an extraordinary standoff after multiple cabinet ministers pressed him to resign and more than 50 ministers quit because of his mishandling of a string of scandals.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister will make a statement to the country today.”

However, he is expected to push to stay on as prime minister until the autumn while a Conservative leadership contest takes place.

He is likely to face intense pressure from his cabinet and MPs to go further and resign as prime minister as well, making way for a caretaker leader such as Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, or Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor.

Two ex-ministers said it was not possible for Johnson to stay until the autumn. One said: “He needs to be gone by tonight. Raab should take over.” Another said: “He needs to hand in the seals of office today and go, so we can have a caretaker PM.”

The revolt began on Tuesday evening with the resignations of Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak as health secretary and chancellor respectively.

Johnson faced the prospect of a second vote of no confidence as soon as next week, with elections to the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee due to be held on Monday and likely to result in a change to the rules.

His exit follows three years of scandals, including fury over his handling of harassment allegations against Pincher, the deputy chief whip; a police fine over lockdown parties in Downing Street; attempts to change the standards system; and accusations of breaking international law.

The final straw for Johnson appeared to be the loss of Zahawi’s public support. On Wednesday night, No 10 had been briefing that the new chancellor was on board with launching a joint economic plan with Johnson next week, with No 10 confirming that Zahawi was still willing to work with him.

But on Thursday morning, Zahawi released a public letter saying he was “heartbroken” that Johnson was not listening to his advice as a friend of over 30 years that he must resign.

“Prime Minister: this is not sustainable and it will only get worse: for you, for the Conservative party and most importantly of all the country. You must do the right thing and go now,” he said, but stopped short of resigning himself.

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Michelle Donelan, the education secretary appointed this week, also resigned, saying the cabinet needed to force Johnson’s hand.

She followed Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, who also resigned on Thursday morning.

Lewis said: “A decent and responsible government relies on honesty, integrity and mutual respect – it is a matter of profound personal regret that I must leave government as I no longer believe those values are being upheld.”

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