The latest on Boris Johnson's resignation

By Tara John, Aditi Sangal, Hafsa Khalil, Ivana Kottasová and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 1:26 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022
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10:46 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

UK Labour leader could beat most of the likely Johnson replacements, poll suggests

From CNN's Richard Allen Greene in London 

Keir Starmer speaks in 2019 in Harlow, England.
Keir Starmer speaks in 2019 in Harlow, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A poll asking respondents to choose between UK Labour leader Keir Starmer and seven likely contenders to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister finds all the Conservatives trailing Starmer except ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who led Starmer by one point. 

The poll found Starmer leading six other hopefuls: ex-Health Secretary Javid (by three points), Defense Secretary Ben Wallace (by 11 points), Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (by 12 points), Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (by 13 points), former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (by 13 points) and former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt (by 15 points.) 

"For each of the following pairs, please indicate which you would most like to be prime minister," Respondents were asked in the poll.

Pollster James Johnson, who worked for Theresa May when she was prime minister, noted that these were the preliminary results and people may change their mind as the contest gets underway.

Sunak and Javid both resigned from high-profile positions in the Johnson Cabinet the day before the poll was launched. Their departures triggered an avalanche of more than 50 other resignations that ultimately forced Johnson to resign on Thursday. 

The poll, from JL Partners, surveyed 2,028 UK adults online on July 6-7, before Johnson announced his resignation. The margin of error on the sample is plus or minus 2.2 points.

10:39 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Johnson holds cabinet meeting after resignation

From CNN's Nic Robertson at Downing Street

UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a cabinet meeting on Thursday, hours after he announced his resignation.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were among the ministers seen entering Downing Street prior to the meeting.

10:22 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Former British PM Major says it's "unwise and may be unsustainable" for Johnson to stay in office

From CNN's Nina dos Santos and Lauren Kent in London

Former prime minister Sir John Major during his keynote speech at the Institute for Government, London, England, on February 10.
Former prime minister Sir John Major during his keynote speech at the Institute for Government, London, England, on February 10. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty Images)

Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major said it would be "unwise and may be unsustainable" for Boris Johnson to remain in the office of prime minister for a length of time while a new Conservative leader is chosen.

In a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, Major wrote, "The proposal for the Prime Minister to remain in office – for up to three months — having lost the support of his Cabinet, his Government and his parliamentary party is unwise, and may be unsustainable."

"In such a circumstance the Prime Minister maintains the power of patronage and, of even greater concern, the power to make decisions which will affect the lives of those within all four nations of the United Kingdom and further afield," Major added in the letter, which was released by his archive on Thursday afternoon. 

"Some will argue that his new Cabinet will restrain him. I merely note that his previous Cabinet did not — or could not — do so," he continued.

Major suggested that Johnson could resign as prime minister, and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab could serve as acting prime minister until a new leader is elected. Another scenario he suggested was for Conservative MPs to elect a new leader to be installed as prime minister, and then party members could later endorse the new leader. 

"Neither of these options is ideal, but the interests of the country must be given priority over all else and, with so many long-term and critical issues before us, an imaginative response even at the risk of some bruised feelings within the party — is most definitely in the national interest," he concluded.

10:27 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Former top aide says Johnson "doesn't think it's over"

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in London

Former Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings walks out of his house to speak to the press in London, England, on January 24.
Former Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings walks out of his house to speak to the press in London, England, on January 24. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

Dominic Cummings, who served as Boris Johnson's most senior advisor before becoming an outspoken critic of the Prime Minister, said he doesn't believe Johnson has given up on his fight to stay in the office.

Writing on Twitter before Johnson delivered his statement but after the news he intended to resign broke, Cummings said: "I know that guy & I'm telling you he doesn't think it's over." He added that he believes Johnson thinks he can "play for time" and "get out of this."

Cummings was one of Johnson's closest aides since he became Prime Minister in 2019, and he wielded unprecedented power and influence inside Downing Street.

He was often credited as the architect of two of Johnson's greatest political triumphs: Brexit and his landslide election victory in 2019.

Cummings left Downing Street amid a bitter fallout in November 2020 and has since become a vocal critic of the Prime Minister — most notably of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting after Johnson's address, Cummings said the speech was "in character" for the Prime Minister.

"Blames everyone else. Thinks he's the real victim. Sets up betrayal story for future Tory conferences & Telegraph columns," he said on Twitter.

"We're all in for a nightmare if he's allowed to squat," he added.

9:19 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Johnson's resignation "opens new page" in UK-EU relations, former EU Brexit negotiator says

From CNN's Tara John

Michel Barnier, the European Union's former chief Brexit negotiator, said he hoped Boris Johnson resignation's would herald a "more constructive" relationship between the EU and the UK.

9:17 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Boris Johnson was "a true friend of Ukraine," President Zelensky says

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian in New York

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk at Khreschatyk Street and Independence Square during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk at Khreschatyk Street and Independence Square during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9. (Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson "a true friend of Ukraine," adding that he is confident that the UK’s policy toward Ukraine won’t be changing any time soon despite Johnson's resignation.

Ukraine gained a lot from their relationship with the prime minister, including first and foremost military support, Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Thursday when asked about his comments on Johnson’s resignation.

In his resignation speech, Johnson addressed Britain's role in supporting Ukraine in its war and said the UK will fight for freedom as long as it takes.

"Let me say now, to the people of Ukraine, that I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes," Johnson said.

The Ukrainian president said he’s looking forward to speaking with Johnson directly to learn more about the details of his resignation.

9:24 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Opinion: Boris Johnson's empire of lies has finally collapsed

Opinion by Rosa Prince

The final lie that brought down the pyramid of untruths that sustained Boris Johnson's premiership was a particularly unedifying one.

His claim to be unaware of prior complaints about a member of his government accused of assault was swiftly exposed, leading to first a trickle, then a stampede of ministers from his tainted administration.

Johnson has now resigned -- like a fractious child unwilling to leave the party, he was previously reduced to begging for a few more months, weeks, days in office.

Why would a prime minister risk his leadership by appointing an alleged predator to a minor role in his government? Why lie about it when, inevitably, his folly was found out?

The answer is not that the miscreant Christopher Pincher was particularly close or important to Johnson; he wasn't. Instead, both the inability to abide by the norms which bind everyone else and the casual and foolish falsehood which followed speak to flaws in Johnson's makeup. Since childhood Johnson seems to have found it easier to reach for a preposterous lie than tell an obvious truth -- and has yet to meet a rule he didn't seek to break.

Read the full article here:

9:05 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland leaders welcome Johnson's resignation

The leaders of UK's devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have welcomed the announcement from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he intends to resign as Conservative Party leader on Thursday.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the resignation would bring "a widespread sense of relief that the chaos of the last few days (indeed months) will come to an end."

In a statement on her Twitter account, she said: "Boris Johnson was always manifestly unfit to be PM and the Tories should never have elected him leader or sustained him in office for as long as they have."

Sturgeon, who has announced last month that she intends to hold an independence referendum next year, questioned Johnson's plan to stay on as PM until autumn, saying it's "far from ideal, and surely not sustainable."

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said Johnson has "done the right thing."

"All four nations need a stable UK Government and I am therefore pleased to see the Prime Minister has now done the right thing and agreed to resign," he said.

Michelle O'Neill, who leads Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said it was "absurd" that Johnson was allowed to stay in the office for so long.

"It has been an utter absurdity that the people here have been subjected to Boris Johnson for any length of time. He is a figure of absolute disrepute. Anyone who tries to sabotage our peace agreements, a quarter century of progress and our shared future is truly no friend of ours," she said. Sinn Fein is the largest group in Stormont, Northern Ireland's devolved parliament.

8:58 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022

"We need a clean start:" Some of Johnson's lawmakers praise him for quitting

A number of Conservative lawmakers have praised Boris Johnson for his decision to step down. Here are some of those who made public comments so far: