Boris Johnson will today resign as prime minister as he finally bows to the pressure of swathes of government resignations.
A No 10 source said Mr Johnson had spoken to the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, and agreed to stand down, with a new Tory leader set to be in place by the party’s conference in October.
But former minister George Freeman, who quit his role earlier in protest against the PM’s leadership, said a caretaker should be put in place, rather than letting Mr Johnson continue over the summer.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister will make a statement to the country today.”
The confirmation came shortly after Mr Johnson’s newly appointed Education Secretary Michelle Donelan resigned following just 36 hours in the post, and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi told the prime minister to “go now”.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also confirmed he had withdrawn his support for the PM, and earlier, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis resigned from his post.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was “good news for the country” that Mr Johnson was stepping, adding: “It should have happened long ago.”
There has been intense pressure on Mr Johnson to quit after more than 50 resignations from all levels of government, and waves of backbenchers appealing for him to go.
The mass rebellion began on Tuesday after Downing Street admitted the PM knew about allegations of inappropriate behaviour against disgraced former Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher in 2019, but still appointed him in February.
Before the admission, government ministers had been sent out to defend Mr Johnson on the airwaves, and told to say their boss was unware of “specific” allegations.
Minutes after Mr Johnson apologised, saying appointing Mr Pincher was a “mistake”, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announce his departure, followed swiftly by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
And their exits began an avalanche of resignations, from cabinet ministers to trade envoys.
But speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the PM dismissed calls to quit, saying it was “the job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going, and that’s what I am going to do”.
After the news broke, Sir Keir said the PM “was always unfit for office”.
The Labour leader added: “He has been responsible for lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale.
“And all those who have been complicit should be utterly ashamed.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted there would be “a widespread sense of relief” that the “chaos” was coming to an end.
But the SNP leader added: “[The] notion of Boris Johnson staying on as PM until autumn seems far from ideal, and surely not sustainable?”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said Mr Johnson would “go down in history as a lying law-breaking prime minister, who abused the trust and patience of the British people.”
She added: “He he will leave a stain on the Conservative Party that can’t be removed.”