UNITED KINGDOM – Is Boris Johnson living his last days at 10 Downing Street, the home of British Prime Ministers? In the turmoil after the revelations about the scandal of the Partygate, these parties sometimes heavily watered during confinements, the Conservative leader is under threat of a motion of censure. This could be voted on at the end of the celebrations of the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth which begin this Thursday, June 2nd.
The Partygate, which exploded several months ago, was overshadowed for a time by the war in Ukraine. But on Wednesday, May 25, the final report of the senior official Sue Gray delivered new details on 16 events in or around Downing Street between May 2020 and April 2021. Boris Johnson had previously admitted to participating in several of them and was even fined £ 50 (€ 60) for non-compliance with confinement, a first for an incumbent head of government.
The latest revelations, backed by photos, have put the UK back in the limelight and sparked calls for resignation in the former London mayor’s own camp. The Prime Minister is worried about a motion of censure, which will be triggered when 54 Conservative MPs send a letter to the 1922 committee – the Conservative parliamentary group – chaired by Graham Brady.
The known number of letters of a single
The press has been speculating for several days on the number of letters sent and each media account. SkyNews calculated that nearly 28 MPs had publicly called for his resignation, with some publicly stating that they had sent their letter. The Guardian gives 18 MPs who sent a letter and announced it, 13 who called for his resignation without giving further details, and 13 who are just very critical of Boris Johnson. For its part, the Financial Times mentions about forty letters sent to the 1922 committee.
One of the last members to speak publicly was John Stevenson, who said in a statement that he was “disappointed by the revelations about activities at 10 Downing Street” and denounced the mismanagement of the crisis.
Business Insider goes further. According to journalist Catherine Neilan, the 54 letters are already on Graham Brady’s desk. However, she reminded on Twitter that only the chairman of the committee knows the exact number of letters since the procedure remains secret. We must therefore be careful about the numbers relayed.
No voting during the platinum jubilee
If the number has actually been reached, there is no question of MPs organizing the vote during the parliamentary break, let alone during the royal weekend festivities. In the opinion of Catherine Neilan, Graham Brady would wait to let these four days of celebrations pass before launching the proceedings. A time of symbolic breathing and something to let the British, like Boris Johnson, enjoy a moment of unity around the totem of the monarchy.
As soon as the party is over, however, everything is in a hurry. Several members reported to Business Insider that the vote could take place next Tuesday, or even “the end of June,” according to former party leader William Hague.
A deadline that is in addition to another event, also scheduled for the end of June: the partial legislatures of June 23. Following the rout of a previous by-election in May, a new debacle is expected in both constituencies where voting is scheduled to take place. Definitely burying the image of Boris Johnson as king-maker, who came to power in 2019 with the largest Conservative majority since 1978.
For one in six Britons, BoJo has to leave
The one who has long been described as Prime Minister “Teflon”, impervious – or almost – to scandals, this time loses the support of the British. 66% favorable opinion in April 2020, the YouGov barometer estimates that only 26% of the population now has a positive image of the Prime Minister (green line in the chart below). Worse, 1 in 6 people think they should resign.
Boris Johnson has also been at the forefront of inflation for the past 40 years, and his opposition has been clamoring to accuse the government of not taking enough action.
To redeem himself from the pro-Brexit electorate, Boris Johnson is expected to announce during the jubilee celebrations the launch of a consultation on the return of imperial units instead of the metric system. A measure with populist accents to mark the return of British sovereignty, while the government is struggling to show the positive effects of leaving the EU.
It remains unlikely that this symbolic decision will divert attention from the embarrassing details of the Partygate, especially as the Prime Minister has no plans to change course. This Wednesday, June 1, in an interview with The Independent, he apologized again but again refused to resign: “I don’t see how it would be responsible for me to give up now, with everything that’s going on. (…) I am still here because we have big economic problems and we have the biggest war in Europe in 80 years. ”
If he survives the no-confidence motion, Boris Johnson will no longer be able to worry about the proceedings for a year. It will remain in danger, however, as Parliament has opened one internal investigation whose conclusions are due by the fall. If he is found to have lied to elected officials when he asserted that the rules had been followed during the confinement, he will have to resign as required by the ministerial code. And to start his 9th cat life as the quasi-consecrated formula across the English Channel now wants?
See also on the Huffpost: Jonhson apologizes for partying down the street in Downing Street