Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, won a stunning victory in the polls in 2019. This sent Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, into retirement and gave the Conservatives an 80 seat majority.
A series of scandals has raised serious questions about Johnson’s ability to stay in power.
When it was revealed that Johnson hosted drunken parties at Downing Street, Johnson angered everyone who was asking questions about his handling of the 2020 pandemic.
Johnson’s government is facing a far worse scandal. After groping two women at a party, Johnson’s deputy chief whip Chris Pincher had to resign. Pincher, who admitted to Johnson that he was drunk, resigned.
The next thing that happened falls under the “cover-up is always more serious than the crime” category.
Johnson was landed in worse trouble by Downing Street’s contortions in trying to explain why Pincher was ever elected, in spite of a flurry of scandalous revelations about his past conduct. A senior civil servant wrote a letter on Tuesday accusing Downing Street not telling the truth. It claimed that the Prime Minister wasn’t aware of at least one historical allegation.
Johnson released a statement to try to put an end to the controversy. He said that he regretted re-designing Pincher to the whip’s offices — which ironically is responsible for party discipline — earlier in the year. Johnson’s statement was quickly overtaken by the resignations of two Cabinet members.
When cabinet ministers jump ship, the rest of the parliamentary system heads for exits. Johnson admitted that he knew of a Pincher incident of bad behavior and said it was the “limited hangout route” as Nixon aides may have suggested.
Johnson’s team stated that he knew about the historical allegations but that they were “resolved.” Johnson’s spokesperson clarified that “resolved” could refer to the fact that the allegation against Pincher was upheld.
Simon McDonald, a former top civil servant at The Foreign Office, revealed on Tuesday morning that Johnson had been personally briefed about the results of an investigation into Pincher’s conduct.
Johnson’s judgement and how he handled this crisis, regardless of the justifications that Downing Street may have tried to give, is now seriously in doubt.
The Conservative politicians are naturally nervous and would love Johnson to be fired. Johnson was able to survive a “no confidence” vote in June and parliamentary rules state that he is immune from any further challenge for 12 months, unless the Conservatives amend the rules. Johnson could decide to resign in order to avoid humiliation.
There is a good chance that more ministers will resign, which will increase the anti-Boris momentum. Johnson has also survived scandals and other difficulties. Johnson is not likely to give in easily.