UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces resignation

Yahoo Finance Live anchors discuss UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation announcement.

Video transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is officially stepping down. The prime minister announced his plans to leave his post during an address from Downing Street today. Johnson's resignation announcement sent European stocks soaring, with the pound also seen gains. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita for more on this. Akiko?

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, good morning to you, Brian. Well, you mentioned the pound initially jumped on those initial reports of Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepping down. But it did pare back some of those gains because there's no timetable about when exactly Johnson plans to hand over to his successor. Also no clear indication of who his successor is likely to be.

Now, we did hear from the prime minister this morning, speaking outside 10 Downing Street, in many ways defiant, talking about the accomplishments of his administration, making no mention of the scandals that ultimately led to his demise. And he never explicitly said the words, I will in fact resign. Take a listen.

BORIS JOHNSON: Of course, it's painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself. But as we've seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves. And my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable.

AKIKO FUJITA: This is, in many ways, a dramatic fall for the prime minister, who rose to power as that de facto leader of the Brexit movement back in 2016. He initially became prime minister after his predecessor Theresa May resigned back in 2019. But here we are, less than three years later, talking about his resignation.

It really started to gain momentum over the last few days, with more than 50 MPs resigning, citing a lack of confidence in the leader. But you could argue that the cracks really started forming months ago and continued to get bigger with every scandal. Really, it was one after another. Reports of the prime minister and his staff breaking those COVID laws back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

But the final straw was the appointment of a senior official who was later accused of sexual assault. Boris Johnson initially denied that he knew that but later did admit to the fact that he did. And that led to the mass resignations that we saw over the last several days.

Now, we should point out, this comes at a very tricky time for the UK economy, facing a lot of economic challenges, inflation at 40-year highs, labor challenges brought on by Brexit, soaring energy costs that, in many ways, preceded the Russia Ukraine war. The prime minister acknowledging that today, vowed his full support for his predecessor, saying the timeline for that handoff will be set next week.

And guys, a new prime minister is expected to be in place by September. The question is, is Boris Johnson going to hang on until then?

BRAD SMITH: And Akiko, I mean, great job summarizing all of this. And with all of what's taking place right now and what you've laid out, I mean, the resignations, 44 people resigning from the government additionally, so much of the economic headwinds that they're facing. Why not just appoint the deputy prime minister outright and allow for the country to have kind of that handing off of the baton?

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, I mean, that's a fair question. And the prime minister didn't exactly really answer that in his statement today. By the way, Brad, you mentioned 40 resignations. We're now talking about a count of roughly 60. So those numbers have continued to tick up.

Now, all we heard from Boris Johnson today is that, in fact, a timeline will be set next week. He didn't say that he was going to hang on until the fall, which was the initial report that we had heard. But there are rumblings that Parliament may try to oust him before that. So that's the next step to closely watch here. But again, no clear successor just yet. And you can bet the US, the White House, really, all Western countries watching very, very closely.