Telephones have been silent in Downing Street since early morning.

No one was answering any more calls, suggesting that those remaining in the bunker were overwhelmed by the crisis.

When a sentence was finally heard, he was no longer surprised by many: Boris Johnson would announce his resignation later in the day, but intend to remain in office until a successor was elected.

"Even Boris Johnson could no longer defy political gravity at the end," commented Conservative MP Andrew Bridge.

Jochen Buchsteiner

Political correspondent in London.

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Rarely has one been able to watch so closely as a government collapses before everyone's eyes.

As early as Wednesday, a prime minister could be seen whose face showed a determined will to fight mixed with wounds and despair.

More than 40 secretaries of state and advisers had tendered their resignations - an unprecedented declaration of no confidence in British history.

In parliament he was sometimes met with naked contempt, even from his own people.

"The game is up" was the most heard phrase in the lobby.

But in the evening he threw to the wind the advice that well-meaning ministerial colleagues gave him in personal talks.

He is said to have replied that resignation is out of the question because the party cannot take away his voter mandate.

On Thursday morning, Johnson apparently realized that his situation was hopeless.

The avalanche of resignations continued to increase.

He couldn't find people for replacements.

Nadhim Zahawi, whom he appointed the new Chancellor of the Exchequer just 36 hours earlier, publicly called on Johnson to resign: "You must do the right thing and go now!" he wrote.

The new Secretary of Education, Michelle Donalan, resigned after just one day in office.

Former admirer Suella Braverman, a member of the Cabinet as Attorney General, declared on television her willingness to become Prime Minister herself.

More collapse was not possible.

In the end, it was the "Pincher affair" that gave Johnson the final push.

Like most scandals before it, this one was of a rather minor nature.

Johnson's missteps were never about personal gain or gross abuse of office.

His scandals had to do with wallpaper, cheese appetizers and most recently with a wrong personal decision.

What turned all of these allegations into politically threatening moments was Johnson's handling of them.

His defense strategies were laced with untruths and deceptions that increasingly relentlessly culminated in public belief that there was a lack of "integrity" at the top of government.

Not a trace of respect

The Labor Party showed no trace of respect for Johnson's decision.

Johnson, whose tenure was marked by "lies and empty promises", should have resigned long ago and the people who supported him to the end should be "ashamed", wrote Labor leader Keir Starmer.

At the same time, he spoke out in favor of new elections.

A change at the top of the Conservatives is not enough, the country needs a fresh government.

The damage that the Conservative Party has done to the country in more than twelve years is too "profound".

Before Johnson even read his resignation, another Tory, after Braverman, threw his hat in the ring, MP Steve Baker.

Many other candidates are likely to follow, including ministers who have remained loyal to Johnson to the end.

There are no official announcements yet, but Westminster expects the group to hold votes over the next two weeks, thinning the field until two candidates remain.

The base of the Conservative Party will then be able to vote on this, presumably by the end of the summer break.

Apparently, Johnson wants to remain in office until the fall.

One of the first to criticize this was his former chief adviser and now-nemesis Dominic Cummings.

He called for Johnson's immediate resignation as prime minister.

Former ministers of Johnson made similar statements.

They suggested that Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, move to Downing Street until the change in leadership is completed.

Raab had already represented Johnson there when the prime minister was in intensive care with Corona.

Johnson is not expected to make a political return this time.