British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains defiant amid calls to resign

In a year of mostly self-inflicted political wounds for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dozens of members of his government resigned Wednesday over how he handled allegations of sexual harassment by a former aide. But amid deafening cries for him to step down, Johnson is defiant. Romilly Weeks of Independent Television News reports from London.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In a year of mostly self-inflicted political wounds for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dozens of members of his government resigned yesterday and today over how he handled allegations of sexual harassment by a former aide.

    It began with his health and Treasury secretaries, but, amid deafening cries for him to step down, Johnson is defiant.

    Romilly Weeks of Independent Television News reports from London.

  • Romilly Weeks:

    If you can measure the trouble you're in by the number of cameras stationed outside your front door, the prime minister only had to glance out of the window to know he's in very serious straits indeed.

  • Question:

    Is it all over, Prime Minister?

  • Romilly Weeks:

    A defiant wave as left with prime minister's questions, but to ever increasing numbers in his party, he's a leader who's run out of answers.

    As his convoy headed into Parliament, the resignations from his government continued to roll in. His greatest danger now, not the delighted benches opposite him, but the frozen faces of the party behind him.

    Characteristic of him that he tried to make light of it.

  • Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister:

    This morning, Mr. Speaker, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Boris Johnson:

    In addition — in addition to my duties in this house, I expect I shall have further such meetings later today.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Romilly Weeks:

    But that laughter soon died with this:

  • Keir Starmer, Labor Party Leader:

    What a pathetic spectacle. The dying acts of his political career is to parrot that nonsense.

    And as for those who are left only in office because no one else is prepared to debase themselves any longer, the charge of the lightweight brigade.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Romilly Weeks:

    The faces of the remaining loyalists on his front bench showing they were not enjoying the line of attack, and then one after the other, his own backbenchers wielded the knife.

  • Person:

    : Does the prime minister think there are any circumstances in which he should resign?

  • Person:

    Today, I ask him to do the honorable thing.

  • Person:

    Take responsibility and resign.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • Boris Johnson:

    Frankly, Mr. Speaker, 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'm going to do.

  • Question:

    Good morning, Mr. Javid.

  • Romilly Weeks:

    The man who started it all looked pretty buoyant as he left to tell everyone why he'd had to go.

  • Sajid Javid, Former British Health Minister:

    Treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months. And, Mr. Speaker, I will never risk losing my integrity. And now this week again, we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we have all been told. And, at some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough.

  • Romilly Weeks:

    The prime minister looked into the middle distance. The expressions on the faces of his party reflected a grimmer story.

    As well as the ticking tally of resignations, the letters of no confidence in the prime minister's leadership are piling up, his next date with destiny, facing a committee of M.P.s, where eight out of the nine Tories questioning him had already withdrawn their support.

  • Person:

    Prime Minister, how's your week going?

  • Boris Johnson:

    Terrific, like many others.

  • Romilly Weeks:

    The cornered prime minister has made it clear he will have to be forced out of Number 10. Behind this door, his Cabinet might be about to try.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That report from Romilly Weeks of Independent Television News

Listen to this Segment