Your Friday Briefing: Boris Johnson Plans to Resign

We’re covering the resignation of Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, and a new strategy for the coronavirus in Beijing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced his resignation on Thursday in London.Credit…Carl Court/Getty Images

Boris Johnson will step down as prime minister

Standing alone at a lectern in front of 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson announced that he would step down after three years as Britain’s prime minister, the result of a wholesale rebellion of his cabinet, a wave of government resignations and a devastating loss of party support prompted by recent scandals.

Johnson tried to hold on to his job in recent days. But a dizzying 48 hours, during which two of his highest-ranking ministers resigned, left him with little chance at maintaining support in Parliament. “Most prime ministers would have gotten the message sooner,” said Andrew Gimson, one of Johnson’s biographers.

“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader,” Johnson said, adding that he would stay on in his post until one was chosen.

Timeline: At the very latest, the Conservatives will want to install his successor by the time of the party conference in the fall. Whether Johnson will be able to stay in power that long, given the intense backlash, is not clear.

Legacy: Johnson’s tenure was distinguished by a landslide victory three years ago and a successful drive to pull Britain out of the European Union. A journalist turned politician, his career has been defined by a gleeful disregard for the rules, a shrewd instinct for public opinion, an elastic approach to ethics and a Falstaffian appetite for the cut-and-thrust of politics.

Who’s next: Many potential candidates reflect a more representative face of the Conservative Party: Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary; Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer; and Liz Truss, the foreign secretary. Here’s what to know about them.

Brittney Griner being escorted to a courtroom outside Moscow for her hearing on Thursday, carrying photos of her wife.Credit…Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

W.N.B.A. star pleads guilty in Russia

The American basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February and made into a political pawn, pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Griner, who sent a letter to President Biden this week asking him not to forget about her, was accused of having a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage. Experts warned before her plea that she would almost certainly be convicted. She could face up to 10 years in a Russian penal colony.

While the Kremlin claims it has no involvement in Griner’s case, Russian state media reports have indicated that Moscow may press the U.S. to free a Russian in American custody — like the convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout — in exchange for her freedom.

Details: Russia’s deputy foreign minister hinted that Moscow was interested in negotiating over Griner’s fate, claiming that she would be helped by “a serious reading by the American side of the signals that they received from Russia, from Moscow, through specialized channels.”

On the ground in Ukraine: Russia’s recent attacks in Donetsk have caused heavy damage. But military experts say the strikes are most likely only the prelude to a full-scale assault — and an attempt to take full control of the Donbas region.

Snake Island: Ukrainians raised their national flag over Snake Island on Thursday, signaling the reconquest of a scrap of land in the Black Sea that has become a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance.

Foreign fighters: Small groups of Western combat veterans are on the front lines, but many more with fewer skills are left trying to find a role.

The subway on Wednesday in Beijing, where people will soon need to be vaccinated to enter public places like libraries.Credit…Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Beijing introduces vaccine requirements

China’s capital city, Beijing, will require people to be vaccinated in order to enter libraries, museums and other public gathering places, a shift from the country’s longstanding strategy of containing the coronavirus with lockdowns.

The announcement, which comes months after many other countries introduced similar restrictions, reflects efforts by Chinese health officials to vaccinate a larger share of the population. If successful, experts say, China could begin to reopen to the world and ease concerns about the country’s slowing economy.

Vaccination of older Chinese people has lagged behind that of other age groups in part because of skepticism toward the safety of China’s domestically developed vaccines. The country has not approved any foreign-made shots.

Data: As of early May, 82 percent of those over age 60 had received two shots, compared with 89 percent in the general population. Just 51 percent of those over 80 had received two shots in March.

In other virus news:

  • Covid cases in Bangladesh more than doubled over the last two weeks. Experts warn that the Eid holidays, which begin Saturday, could be a superspreader event.

  • The most transmissible coronavirus subvariant yet, BA.5, is threatening to create a new wave of infections in the U.S., even among those who recovered from the virus fairly recently.


Asia Pacific

Visitors to Tiananmen Square in Beijing scanned their IDs at a security check in 2018. Many Chinese citizens have grown accustomed to surveillance and censorship.Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
  • A Shanghai police database with a trove of personal data that was taken by hackers had been left online, unsecured, for months — “a big black eye” for the Chinese security apparatus.

  • China is pre-emptively trying to shield itself from any sanctions that would result from a clash over Taiwan, the F.B.I. director said.

  • With his country in economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s president said that he asked President Vladimir Putin of Russia for help buying fuel, the BBC reported.

  • In a major foreign policy speech, Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, softened her stance on China and pushed back on the Biden administration’s approach, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Around the World

Uniper, which runs this Bavarian gas storage facility, could get financial relief from Germany’s Parliament on Thursday.Credit…Andreas Gebert/Reuters
  • German lawmakers are set to pave the way for a bailout of Uniper, the country’s largest importer of Russian gas, as Europe braces for further cuts to gas supplies next week.

  • Irish regulators threatened to block Facebook and Instagram from moving data about European users to the U.S.

  • In the year since Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was killed, the country’s despair has deepened. Gangs now vie with the government for control.

  • Once hunted to the brink of extinction, fin whales in the Southern Ocean have rebounded and returned to their historical feeding grounds.

A Morning Read

The Dolomites have long been a big tourist attraction.Credit…Francesca Volpi for The New York Times

A tragedy in the Italian Dolomites — where a glacier broke off with the force of a collapsing skyscraper and crushed at least nine hikers — proved to be a reminder of the consequences of extreme weather brought on by man-made, irreversible climate change.

Lives lived: Ni Kuang, a prolific Hong Kong fantasy novelist who wrote hundreds of martial arts films for Bruce Lee, died at 87. Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of the international smash hit manga and trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, died at 60.


Trevor Rainbolt, a prominent player of GeoGuessr, at his home in Los Angeles.Credit…Jack Bool for The New York Times

Gen Z geography

The premise of the online game GeoGuessr is simple: You’re dropped somewhere in the world, seen through Google’s Street View, and must guess where you are. Often that means clicking to move through the landscape and scanning for clues.

Trevor Rainbolt, 23, has found online fame posting videos in which he locates himself in seconds, The Times’s Kellen Browning writes. His geography skills verge on wizardry — he can identify a country by the color of its soil — and his highlights regularly get millions of views on TikTok.

“Candidly, I haven’t had any social life for the past year,” Rainbolt said. “But it’s worth it, because it’s so fun and I enjoy learning.”


What to Cook

Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Roast peaches with boneless chicken thighs in the oven, and let them meld with those flavorful drippings.

What to Read

These books will guide you through Berlin.

What to Watch

“Moon, 66 Questions” is an elliptical drama about a young woman who returns home to care for her ailing father.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Our world (five letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Matthew

P.S. The word “whackadoodle” appeared in The Times for the first time, in an article about the Georgia Guidestones.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about an anti-abortion campaigner.

You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].

Back to top button