The political stance of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, already hit by various scandals and electoral defeats, weakened exceptionally between Tuesday and Wednesday. Earlier, on Tuesday evening, two of the most prominent government ministers resigned, criticizing his attitude and accusing him of not acting in the national interest. After that, according to what was written by British websites and newspapers, on Wednesday evening a delegation of members of Johnson’s government came to him at the Downing Street residence in London with the intent of convincing him to resign. However, Johnson seems to have rejected the proposal, despite the fact that he is in a condition that for many of his predecessors would have been considered unsustainable.
The events of the last few days add to and accentuate a growing discontent with Johnson both within the Conservative Party and the country, such discontent that according to many analysts his government is now nearing its end.
Recently, Johnson’s position was jeopardized by the resignations of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (i.e. the Minister of Economy) and Sajid Javid, the Minister of Health, as well as those of several other members of his executive. In addition, on Wednesday evening the Guardian and the BBC wrote that Johnson had called for the resignation of Michael Gove, secretary of his government and one of the most influential members of his party, to whose leadership he had already applied in 2019. Gove is considered one of the promoters of Johnson’s resignation request.
In recent months, his government has been hit by the so-called “partygate”, the scandal of private parties organized in the prime minister’s residence during the lockdown, and more recently the Conservative Party has lost important local elections, as well as the vote for replace two Conservative deputies who had resigned following sex scandals. In recent days, it was discovered that Johnson had appointed Congressman Chris Pincher as the party’s deputy whip (i.e. one of the people who must gather the necessary votes in the House, a kind of deputy group leader) despite knowing that he had been accused of harassment. sexual.
Sunak and Javid’s resignations came after this latest scandal, ten minutes away from each other, even though the two – who are political allies – claim they haven’t coordinated. Neither is referring to Pincher’s specific case, although Javid wrote in his resignation letter that “the British people expect integrity from his government.” Sunak, on the other hand, spoke above all of differences in economic policy.
Johnson’s government suffered further losses on Wednesday morning. Before he resigned Will Quince, Undersecretary for Children and Families, who accused Johnson of lying to him: on Monday Quince had publicly defended the government from the Pincher scandal, saying that Johnson did not know about the allegations, only to discover that Johnson knew, and that he had also lied to him. After Quince’s, about ten other undersecretaries and other collaborators resigned.
The resignations of Sunak and Javid, the two most important, were seen as a way to accelerate the government crisis and possibly take advantage of it: both Conservative politicians, according to various analyzes in British newspapers, aspire to fill Johnson’s place once he will have resigned.
Johnson, however, has no plans to step down, despite having faced various scandals and suffered numerous defeats that would have irreparably damaged many of his predecessors. Despite having lost two of his most important ministers, and two of the biggest figures in the Conservative Party, Johnson has already replaced them with Nadhim Zahawi, who became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and with Steve Barclay, who was his former chief of staff and he became Minister of Health.
The government is now emptied of most of its prominent personalities, but Johnson intends to remain in office until he is forced to resign.
The fact is that although most British citizens would like his resignation (69 per cent, including 54 per cent of his party’s voters), and although it is very likely that the majority of Conservative MPs no longer support him , there are currently no tools in the British system to remove it: just last month Johnson barely survived a vote of no confidence within the party, which means that, under the rules, similar votes cannot be called for at least one another year.
According to Politico, it is not excluded that in order to oust Johnson the Conservative MPs will change this rule, and call for a new vote of no confidence in the coming days. Johnson would also be forced to leave office if his government ministers resign en masse, or if he loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons (different procedure than a no-confidence vote within the party).
For now, these options are all quite unlikely. But it is really difficult to imagine that Boris Johnson will be able to reach the end of his mandate, scheduled for 2024. According to the British newspapers, even his ministers are preparing to compete to replace him: Sunak and Javid, with their resignations, have bet that it is politically more convenient to distance themselves from Johnson, while others, such as Foreign Minister Liz Truss, believe their chances of succeeding Johnson will be greater if they remain in government to the end.
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