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Boris Johnson, the U.K.'s embattled prime minister, announced he's resigning

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will resign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: 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 prime minister.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Johnson speaking in front of his residence, 10 Downing Street, earlier today.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Over the last two days, more than 50 lawmakers stepped down, sometimes one an hour. A steady stream of members of his own party visited him one by one yesterday, asking him to go.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHNSON: The reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019.

MARTÍNEZ: Johnson's party did, indeed, win a resounding victory in parliamentary elections three years ago. He said that mandate from voters empowered him to stay on.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHNSON: In the last few days, I've tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we're delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate and when we're actually only a handful of points behind in the polls.

FADEL: But it wasn't just a matter of polls that led Johnson's fellow Tories to call for his resignation.

MARTÍNEZ: No, scandal after scandal over the last few months - from flagrant violations of the U.K.'s lockdown rules to elevating an MP Johnson knew had a history of alleged sexual misconduct - all that lost him the faith of many members of his own party. Speaking directly to both his supporters and detractors, Johnson said...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHNSON: I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them's the breaks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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