It was the hit that all critics of Boris Johnson have been waiting for.
Health Minister Sajid Javid and Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted their resignations on Tuesday criticizing the government’s incompetence.
None of them explicitly mention the sexual harassment scandals or the pandemic celebrations on Downing Street that have plagued the government for months. Sunak, in particular, claims that the reason for his resignation was disagreements with the management of the economy.
But the backdrop to both resignations is Johnson’s disastrous handling of the case of Conservative MP Chris Pincher, who admitted to appointing him a Conservative Party disciplinary officer despite the prime minister having previously notified him of the past allegations against Pincher.
Just minutes before his ministers resigned, Johnson stated on camera that he was sorry for the mistake made in Pincher’s nomination and visited the House of Commons tearoom, declaring that “everyone deserves a second chance”.
Accumulation of scandals
The problem is that Johnson didn’t get a second chance, and there were many more, after scandals over detention-breaking celebrations, repairs to his apartment funded by Conservative donors, the fact that the Security Service ignored advice to bestow the nobility title of Russian- British businessman Yevgeny Lebedev and his attempts to reform the system of standards of the House of Commons.
Two major resignations did not trigger an immediate wave of government ministerial resignations, but Conservative MPs critical of Johnson continue to believe that this means the end of the prime minister is not far off.
With the prime minister’s two main opponents now among the defenders, they can spend more time creating campaigns to secure the lead of Johnson’s future successor. Sunak and Javid will also be able – like Jeremy Hunt – to criticize Johnsonism from outside the government. Some Sunak supporters, such as Hugh Merriman and Kevin Hollinreik, were among those who applauded the former Treasury Secretary.
In addition, new resignations in the government are possible in the coming days. In this case, Johnson may not be able to garner enough support to replace his cabinet members who have resigned.
Committee of 1922
Failing that, attention will be focused on the election of the so-called 1922 committee responsible for establishing the Tory party’s constitution and assigning votes to replace the prime minister. The renewal of the committee is likely to win a list of Johnson’s critics, and with it a change in the rules so that the prime minister’s resignation can be voted on again without waiting a year under current rules.
Johnson managed to win his party’s vote of confidence by a narrow margin in June, but it will only take about 32 MPs to switch sides in the coming months to finish his term.
Some of the government ministers who remain loyal to Johnson have spoken of preparing for what is to come as they expect Keir Starmer to be fined by Durham police in the coming days for possibly violating COVID restrictions while dining with his team, according to the cabinet. source.
They believe Johnson can weather the storm if attention soon turns to a leadership and ethics crisis in the Labor Party.
But the situation seems equally unacceptable to many MPs in the Conservative government. “I find more desperation,” one of them says. “Ministers and civil servants act like no one is answering because the wiggle room in Downing Street is so consumed by it. At present, the system cannot work efficiently. This is another disaster. But I think it looks different because patience is running out.”
Another cabinet source says, “We are resisting.”
Translated by Julian Knochert.
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