(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson told Cabinet colleagues he will not resign as Conservative leader and prime minister, according to an official, despite a slew of resignations on Wednesday that threaten to make his position untenable.
The prime minister intends to fill empty government positions, the official said. A delegation of senior ministers earlier told Johnson his time was up, following the resignation of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday set in motion a dramatic 24 hours in British politics.
Johnson’s defiance threatens to trigger more resignations, after Conservative MPs confronted him in the House of Commons telling him to resign. But he made it clear he saw his mandate as coming from the electorate that delivered him a thumping majority in 2019, rather than members of his party.
“The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he’s been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that’s what I’ll do,” Johnson told Parliament.
But Johnson is rapidly running out of options. The sheer volume of resignations from his government -- around three dozen -- leaves vacancies that will be hard to fill from the back benches. More than 40% of his MPs opposed him in a confidence vote last month, and many more have changed their mind since then.
Johnson will be calculating he can use the next few days to rally his remaining supporters before he is likely to face another ballot on his leadership, potentially on Tuesday.
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