(London) After months of the “partygate” scandal, the hour of the ax has arrived for Boris Johnson: the British Prime Minister faces a vote of no confidence from his majority, increasingly exasperated, on Monday evening.
Posted at 6:18 a.m.
Updated at 7:10 a.m.
The festive parenthesis of the platinum jubilee celebrating the 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II barely closed, the United Kingdom has resumed with the affair which has poisoned British political life for months and was relaunched by the publication of a harsh report on parties held in Downing Street during lockdowns.
The Chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, announced that the fateful threshold of 54 letters from MPs, or 15% of the parliamentary group, asking for the leader’s departure had been reached, through a procedure shrouded in great secrecy fueling the speculations.
The vote will take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. local (1 p.m. and 3 p.m. EDT) behind closed doors.
If Boris Johnson is defeated, an internal election will be launched to appoint a new party leader, who will become prime minister, in a delicate context of war in Ukraine and inflation at its highest for 40 years.
If he wins, he cannot be targeted by another motion of no confidence for a year.
Via his spokesperson, Boris Johnson “welcomed the opportunity given to him to present his arguments to MPs”, saying he hoped that the vote “allows the government to draw a line and move on by responding the priorities of the people.
He must speak in the afternoon in front of his majority to try to snatch the 180 votes necessary to keep him in power.
Triumphantly coming to power in 2019 with the promise of getting the country out of the Brexit impasse, the 57-year-old leader has long maintained a stainless popularity. Despite the accumulation of scandals, he maintained himself by highlighting his leading role in the Western response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He has so far also been favored by the lack of an obvious successor in the ranks of the Conservatives, who have been in power for 12 years in the UK, especially since the star of Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, long the darling of the party , abruptly tarnished due to his wealth and his wife’s tax arrangements during a cost of living crisis.
But his slump in popularity has already caused heavy setbacks for the Tories in local elections in early May. The majority increasingly doubt the ability of “BoJo”, booed by the crowd during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, to win the 2024 legislative elections.
Far from putting an end to the “partygate” which has embarrassed the Conservative government for six months, the publication at the end of May of an administrative report detailing the extent of breaches of anti-COVID-19 rules in Downing Street has sparked new calls for resignation, announced in dribs and drabs.
Last to come out of the woods on Monday morning, MP Jesse Norman deemed the Prime Minister’s defense in this case “grotesque” and criticized a whole series of policies announced in recent weeks, on Northern Ireland or immigration.
Several dozen elected officials or majority ministers expressed their support for the head of government on Twitter.
But former minister Jeremy Hunt, often cited as a succession contender, has announced he will vote against him. “We are not giving the British the leadership they deserve. We don’t offer the integrity, skill and vision needed to unleash the enormous potential of the country,” he explained. “We no longer have the confidence of voters and we are on our way to losing the next legislative elections”.
Another setback: Conservative MP John Penrose, in charge of the fight against corruption with Boris Johnson, announced his resignation, believing that the Prime Minister had broken the ministerial code and that he too should leave.
If he wins Monday night’s vote, the problems will not be over for Boris Johnson.
In 2018, Theresa May, who preceded him in her post, survived a motion of no confidence before having to resign a few months later, too weak.
What is the party gate ?
On November 30, 2021, the tabloid The Daily Mirror reveals that several members of the British government partied notably at 10 Downing Street in 2020 and 2021, as authorities imposed significant restrictions on taxpayers. The Telegraph also mentioned a party that ended in the early morning, when Queen Elizabeth II attended the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, alone. Following the celebrations, civil servant Sue Gray released a report in which the prime minister was harshly blamed for carelessness at his official residence.
Another investigation into the “partygate” is also planned, this one parliamentary. If the latter concludes that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons by claiming not to have broken the rules, he is supposed to resign.