Boris Johnson faces a crisis in his government, with the resignation of several members of the administration. Many of them say that keeping the British prime minister in office has become “unsustainable”.
The cause of this instability is related to Chris Pincher, who was fired last Thursday, amid allegations that Johnson had appointed him to his government, despite knowing of previous allegations of sexual misconduct.
At first, when new reports about other cases related to Pincher while he was foreign minister emerged, it was denied that the prime minister knew anything about the cases. However, after difficulties in providing explanations, Johnson’s team said that he knew of the allegations, but that they had been “resolved”.
When one of the reports against Pincher was confirmed, the government spokesman explained that “resolved” could mean that it had been confirmed.
Then, on Tuesday morning, Simon McDonald, a former foreign ministry official, revealed that Johnson had been personally briefed on the outcome of an investigation into the former government official’s conduct, sparking a wave of layoffs. along the day.
Pincher did not directly admit to the allegations, but told Johnson in a letter that “last night I drank too much” and “shame on myself and others.”
The prime minister acknowledged on Tuesday that “it was a mistake” to appoint Pincher to his government, but the damage had already been done. The wave of government resignations began just minutes after he apologized for the decision, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid stepping down. Over the next 24 hours, dozens of politicians followed suit.
He says he will not resign, nor can he, at the moment, undergo a “vote of no confidence”, a legal process that can be opened by the conservative party, which the prime minister leads, to remove him from power. This is because a vote of the type was already taken at the beginning of last month, in which Johnson emerged victorious.
For a new motion, under the current rules, it is necessary to wait 12 months. However, members of the conservative party are already articulating to try to change this norm.
This appears to be the most serious crisis during the administration of Boris Johnson, but it is not the first.
Illegal prorogation of Parliament
Critics of the government have often accused the prime minister of flouting government procedure and bending the rules when it suited him – such as when he decided to ask the queen to suspend – or close – parliament for five weeks at the height of a political crisis over the Brexit.
The monarch complied, in line with her duty to stay out of politics and act only on the advice of ministers of state.
But when the Supreme Court ruled that the extension was illegal, it raised the uncomfortable question of whether the Queen had broken the law. The decision led to accusations that the Johnson government deliberately misled the monarch as part of its strategy to secure Brexit.
Johnson was forced to apologize in person, according to the Sunday Times.
But the botched overtime was just one example of Johnson’s disregard for parliamentary rules and standards. He supported Home Secretary Priti Patel after an investigation into employee intimidation found she violated the Ministerial Code and failed to “treat her public officials with consideration and respect”, with “behavior that can be described as intimidation”.
Johnson’s ethics adviser Alex Allen resigned over the case.
The apartment renovation
One of the first scandals Johnson faced was an allegation of corruption after WhatsApp messages revealed he had asked a Conservative Party donor for funds to renovate his Downing Street residence. British news agencies reported that the work cost around US$280,000.
Political donations and loans are tightly controlled in the UK, with loans of over US$10,400 registered and publicly revealed by a commission four times a year.
Johnson did not report the donations and, as a result, the Conservative Party was fined £17,800 by the Election Commission in December last year.
Owen Paterson Lobby Scandal
Last year, Johnson tried to force Conservative lawmakers to vote in favor of lifting the suspension of a fellow party member of Parliament.
Owen Paterson, an influential Conservative member and former cabinet minister, faced a 30-day suspension after being accused of a “serious” violation of lobbying rules.
After a backlash, Johnson turned around and Paterson eventually stepped down.
The Liberal Democrats won Paterson’s seat – one that the Conservatives held for nearly 200 years – in the subsequent election in December.
Johnson faced months of damaging revelations from parties held on Downing Street, defying restrictions due to the pandemic, with images on social media since January.
A report published in May by senior civil servant Sue Gray criticized a culture of events that broke the rules and revealed new photos of him at two separate meetings.
One of the parties took place on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral – at a time when strict limits on socialization forced even the Queen to sit alone to say goodbye to her husband of nearly 74 years.
Gray wrote that “senior leadership at the center” of the Johnson administration “must take responsibility” for a culture that allowed parties to take place.
The prime minister himself was fined by the London Metropolitan Police for attending a party on government premises, making him the first holder of the UK’s most senior post in history to have broken the law in office. Sunak, who resigned on Tuesday, was also fined for participating in the same event.
Johnson’s handling of the scandal was particularly misguided, with the government first denying the meetings, then saying it didn’t know about them, and then claiming that it attended because it believed they were work events.
Source: CNN Brasil