Boris Johnson defends actions against the resignation of more conservative allies

Boris Johnson defends actions against the resignation of more conservative allies
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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fighting for his political life Wednesday as more ministers and advisers continued to quit his government and people frustrated with his leadership called on him to step down.

The explosive resignations on Tuesday of two of the most important ministers in his cabinet, Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, triggered an exodus, with at least 32 Conservative politicians leaving these posts in a 24 hour period.

The resignations, which followed a series of scandals, raised questions about whether this was finally the end for a prime minister who has defied many previous predictions about his demise.

In a fiery session of the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson dismissed those calling on him to resign.

“Frankly, the job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when you’ve been given a colossal mandate is to carry on, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

Although outgoing government officials highlighted different reasons, their reasoning was generally to do with a sense of mistrust and mismanagement.

Javid, the former health secretary, sharply criticized the prime minister, telling parliament that “walking the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months.” He said that late last year he was told by senior figures that there had been no parties in Downing Street during the pandemic lockdowns. A police investigation into “Partygate” ended with 126 finesincluding one for Johnson.

UK ‘Partygate’ investigation ends with 126 fines, no further citations for Boris Johnson

Javid added that “this week again, we have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we’ve all been told,” he said, referring to a separate scandal involving Chris Pincher, who recently resigned as deputy chief following allegations of that he assaulted two men while intoxicated. Downing Street initially said Johnson was unaware of any previous allegations of misconduct when the prime minister gave Pincher a key government post, but then backtracked to acknowledge that Johnson knew about an investigation that confirmed similar complaints in 2019.

“The problem starts at the top,” said Javid.

While Javid was speaking, another minister resigned.

Latest Boris Johnson scandal prompts top ministers to resign

In a sign of the mood of the session, at one point a group of opposition Labor Party lawmakers greeted Johnson, shouting “Goodbye”.

Most of the British public believe Johnson should throw in the towel. A YouGov survey published on Tuesday found that 69 per cent of Britons said Johnson should resign, including a majority of Conservative voters (54 per cent).

Only 18 percent of the British public say Johnson should stay.

The resignations of the UK’s top ministers and the plight of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government dominated British newspaper headlines on July 6. (Video: Reuters)

Under current Conservative Party rules, there is no formal way for the prime minister’s critics to quickly get rid of him if he doesn’t want to go. Since Johnson survived – narrowly – a vote of no confidence from his match last month, he is officially insulated from further match challenges for a year.

But on Wednesday there was a push for the powerful 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers, which makes the rules, to change them, immediately or in the next few days, when they are expected to elect new members. Some of those campaigning for roles have suggested they would support allowing another vote of no confidence.

To trigger a vote, 54 Conservative lawmakers, or 15 per cent of the parliamentary party, would have to submit letters of censure.

Boris Johnson survives but is weakened by motion of no confidence

Analysts have said the party may want a new leader before its annual conference in the fall.

Rob Ford, a political expert at the University of Manchester, drew parallels to 2016 when, following the Brexit vote, there were mass resignations from the opposition Labor Party’s shadow cabinet aimed at putting pressure on Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn. While some leaders may have read the room and decided to resign, Ford said, Corbyn did not and remained as leader until the spring of 2020.

“Similarly, with Johnson, there is widespread opposition to his leadership. You have a leader who won’t bow to informal pressure to go, and the one formal mechanism you don’t have available. So you’re in a state of limbo,” Ford said.

Meanwhile, the number of resignations, including from former loyalists, continued to rise by the hour on Wednesday. In one letter, five legislators resigned at one time. “It has become increasingly clear that the government cannot function given the problems that have come to light and the way they have been handled,” they wrote.

In other letterWill Quince, minister for children and families, said he could not accept the way he was asked to defend Downing Street to the media over a scandal involving Pincher. He had been given “inaccurate” information about Johnson’s knowledge of the facts and he had “accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith,” he said.

There is a tradition in British politics of sending ministers in the morning to make the media rounds, to make the government’s case on the issues. It is usually both a duty and an honor. This is how politicians can make a name for themselves. But many ministers are indicating that they no longer defend this government.

Legislator Jo Churchill give up As one junior minister puts it, “Recent events have shown that integrity, competence and judgment are essential to the role of Prime Minister, while a jocular and self-serving approach is bound to have its limitations.”

Ford said that while Johnson could limp along until another vote of confidence is held, which could be in 11 months, or sooner if the rules are changed. He said it seemed unlikely that Johnson would survive that.

“What exactly will change between now and then to restore confidence in Johnson?” Ford asked. “At this point, I think something akin to a biblical miracle would be needed. Nothing can be ruled out with the luckiest politician in British politics, but it would take something extraordinary.”

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