UK PM clings to power as resignations pile up | Inquirer News

UK PM clings to power as resignations pile up

/ 03:48 PM July 07, 2022
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson answering questions at a parliamentary Liaison Committee hearing in the House of Commons in London on July 6, 2022. - Boris Johnson on Wednesday refused to quit as British prime minister, despite a slew of resignations from his scandal-hit government, piling on pressure as he faced a grilling from angry MPs. (Photo by PRU / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / PRU " - NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson answering questions at a parliamentary Liaison Committee hearing in the House of Commons in London on July 6, 2022. – Boris Johnson on Wednesday refused to quit as British prime minister, despite a slew of resignations from his scandal-hit government, piling on pressure as he faced a grilling from angry MPs. (Photo by PRU / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT ” AFP PHOTO / PRU ” – NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was clinging to power Thursday, despite more than 50 resignations from his government, including Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis.

Lewis on Thursday became the fourth cabinet minister to resign, writing in a letter published on his Twitter account that Johnson was “past the point of no return”.

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The Conservative leader on Wednesday defiantly responded to calls from his loyalists and cabinet colleagues to step down by sacking minister and former top ally Michael Gove.

The Communities Secretary was reportedly the first to tell him that he must resign for the good of the Tory party and country, with a source close to Johnson telling the BBC that Gove was “a snake”.

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Gove was Johnson’s right-hand man in Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, but dramatically chose to run against him for the Conservative leadership that same year, and again in 2019.

The Sun newspaper said Johnson had told colleagues they would have to “dip (their) hands in blood” to push him out of office.

Allies of the prime minister said he was going to “fight on”, with his parliamentary private secretary (PPS) James Duddridge telling Sky News Johnson was in a “buoyant mood”.

But on Thursday morning, the front pages of British newspapers highlighted the apparently hopeless position the scandal-hit leader was in.

The normally staunchly pro-Conservative Daily Express spoke of Johnson’s “last stand”, with the Daily Telegraph calling Johnson “mortally wounded”, and The Times saying Johnson was “fight(ing) for his life”.

‘No functioning government’

The shock resignations of finance chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid late Tuesday set off a chain of others.

They quit after Johnson apologized for appointing as deputy chief whip senior Conservative MP Chris Pincher, who was forced to step down following accusations he drunkenly groped two men.

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Days of shifting explanations had followed Pincher’s resignation, with Downing Street at first denying Johnson knew of the prior allegations — a defense that collapsed after a former top civil servant said he was told in 2019 about another incident.

Tory critics said the Pincher affair had tipped many over the edge, angry at having to defend what they saw as more lies by Johnson.

Johnson was confronted by members of his cabinet on Wednesday when he returned to Downing Street from a lengthy grilling by a parliamentary committee.

The delegation was said to include hardline interior minister Priti Patel and Nadhim Zahawi, who has barely been 24 hours in his new job as Sunak’s successor — though Johnson’s PPS Duddridge later denied Zahawi was there.

A third member of Johnson’s cabinet — Welsh Secretary Simon Hart — quit on Wednesday evening.

Former head of Downing Street’s Policy Unit Camilla Cavendish told the BBC that Britain no longer had “a functioning government”.

The calls for Johnson to go persisted late into the evening.

Attorney General Suella Braverman told broadcaster ITV that while she wouldn’t resign, “the balance has tipped now in favour of saying… it’s time to go”.

She also said she would stand in a leadership contest.

‘Bye, Boris’

A culture of scandal has dogged Johnson for months, including lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

The prime minister, who received a police fine for the Covid lockdown-breaking “Partygate” affair, faces a parliamentary probe into whether he lied to MPs about the revelations.

Johnson only narrowly survived a no-confidence vote among Conservative MPs a month ago, which ordinarily would mean he could not be challenged again for another year.

But the influential “1922 Committee” of non-ministerial Tory MPs is reportedly seeking to change the rules, with its executive committee announcing Wednesday it will elect a fresh line up of members next week.

Johnson’s refusal to resign means he will likely face a second confidence vote, although the prime minister has been evasive when asked if he was thinking about triggering a general election.

“It’s not clear he could call a general election if his party or his cabinet don’t wish for him to do so,” Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King’s College, told LBC radio.

“The Queen might well ask whether the Conservative Party as a whole wants a general election.”

In parliament on Wednesday, Johnson insisted the country needed “stable government, loving each other as Conservatives, getting on with our priorities”.

But addressing MPs, Javid urged other ministers to resign.

“The problem starts at the top, and I believe that is not going to change,” he told a hushed House of Commons.

Cries of “bye, Boris” echoed around the chamber at the end of his speech.

RELATED STORY:

Boris Johnson ‘up for a fight’ as clamor to quit grows

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TAGS: British Parliament, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
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