- BBC News World
Less than three years ago, in December 2019, Boris Johnson achieved biggest election victory of the preservedeitherbeef since 1987.
But now he has been forced to withdraw.
After a barrage of resignations from ministers and other officials, months of controversy and pressure from all possible fronts, Johnson announcedeither his resignation this Thursday as leader of the Conservative Party and opened the doors to the election of a new prime minister, as reported this Thursday from his official residence at 10 Downing Street.
During its legislature, the United Kingdom has experienced some of the most turbulent episodes in its recent history, such as leaving the European Union, the fight against the coronavirus, the economic challenges arising from the war in Ukraine, the post-pandemic recovery and the increase in inflation.
Difficult moments for any other leader in the world, but in Johnson’s case they were accompanied by a series of scandals and controversies that deteriorated his credibility and leadership until his fall was consolidated.
At BBC Mundo we summarize 4 of those crisisstarting with the most recent.
the sex scandal
Last Wednesday, June 29, the parliamentarian Chris Pincher, then deputy leader of the Conservative Party caucus, went to a private club in London. In his words, he “drank too much” and “embarrassed himself”.
Pincher was accused of groping two men, which led to a wave of allegations against him, some dating back several years. This scandal sparked a chain of events that led to the downfall of the prime minister.
First, from Downing Street, the official residence of Boris Johnson, it was said that the prime minister was unaware of the “specific allegations” about Pincher before appointing him as his party’s caucus leader in February.
The ministers later reiterated this position, though it turned out to be inaccurate.
On July 4, the BBC reported that Johnson was aware of a formal complaint against Pincher. And the next day, a former civil servant, Lord McDonald, said that the Prime Minister had been informed of the complaint in person.
Only then Johnson admitted that had been informed in 2019 and apologized for Pincher’s appointment.
The Pincher case unleashed an unprecedented rout of government, with more than 50 officials resigning, leaving Johnson with virtually no support.
the party gate
The starting point of this scandal could be set in mid-2021, when the newspaper The Sun revealed a photo and a video of the then Minister of Health, Matt Hancockkissing his adviser Gina Coladangelo.
The image was dated May of that year, when harsh restrictions and social distancing were in force, established by Hancock himself to protect the population during the pandemic.
The publication of these images forced the resignation of the minister and opened the door to more leaks of images showing Downing Street officials at gatherings and parties when the government had imposed a ban on gatherings of more than two people.
One was made in May 2020, and in the images the prime minister was seen in the garden of the official residence drinking wine with other officials.
There were also known meetings that took place in December of that year, during the Christmas holidays, where several officials are seen sharing food and drinks with each other.
At that time, the United Kingdom was experiencing a critical situation with more than 400 deaths daily.
When the first reports about meetings in Downing Street began to be known, Johnson always denied his participation in them and refused to apologize.
However, when revelations surfaced that placed the prime minister at several of those meetings, he was forced to change his position and apologize publicly.
The partygate, as the scandal is known in the UK, it led to a police investigation and a detailed report by government official Sue Gray.
The Metropolitan Police issued 126 fines for 83 people for breaking confinement rules during gatherings linked to the partygate.
The Gray report, for its part, led an attempted no-confidence motion against Johnson that the leader ended up overcoming, although at great political cost: this attempt was promoted by his own party and 148 of his deputies voted against him.
Although he passed the motion of censure, his image and leadership were further weakened and served as a prelude to the Pincher scandal that finally triggered this latest crisis.
The controversial management of the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic hit hard at an already difficult time for the UK and Johnson.
Brexit had just been certified on January 31, 2020 and the British were facing an uncertain year for companies and individuals while the agreement that would mark the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom was being negotiated.
In March 2020 the virus was already circulating among the British and by the end of the month Johnson addressed the nation asking them to stay home to save lives and protect public health.
the premier was widely criticized by the scientific community for not closing the country on time. Days after announcing the confinement, Johnson himself tested positive for coronavirus and was even admitted to intensive care in the hospital.
Once he returned to his duties, Johnson faced harsh criticism for his decisions to stop the first outbreak of the epidemic, for not reaching the objectives of mass testing, for the lack of a clear strategy to protect nursing homes and for the problems distribution of medical supplies.
However, not everything was shadows in the management of the pandemic. After his contagion, Johnson changed his strategy and andl Executive was flattered for the rapid and efficient distribution of vaccines since the end of 2020 and the high levels of immunity achieved among the population.
His clear roadmap to open the country in early 2022 and embark on economic recovery was also applauded, despite reluctance from many sectors, especially after the omicron variant emerged and caused a worrying uptick in cases.
The United Kingdom adds more than 180,000 deaths from coronavirus, one of the highest rates in the world behind countries such as the United States, Brazil and India.
Rising cost of living, rising taxes…
The UK suffers from current inflation of 9.1% and experts warn that it could soon enter a recession.
It is true that many of the reasons are beyond Johnson’s control, such as the war in Ukraine, which has led to increases in the price of oil and the cost of food.
And, despite the fact that the government has taken some steps – for example, reducing the tax on gasoline – raised taxes in apriland this increased the pressure on the working class.
“In the midst of the worst cost of living crisis in decades, the government decides to raise taxes on the working class,” denounced the leader of the Labor Party, Keir Starmer.
However, the country’s economic challenges were already brewing long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Problems arising from Brexit and the most critical moment of the pandemic created a perfect storm for the government from the beginning of 2021.
The UK saw large increases in oil and gas prices and consumer prices increased considerably.
Steel and fertilizer plants were forced to temporarily close and several energy companies went bankrupt.
And this whole situation, largely replicated in other countries of the world, in the UK it was worsened by the effects of Brexitas many food supply chain workers came from the continent and no longer had permission to work in the UK.
Johnson has been one of the main promoters of the break with the European Union and the idea of the government was that British employees would replace the European ones.
But critics questioned this idea because of the need to train those workers on time. They also argued that many Britons, having been made redundant or working from home, would not be as interested in low-paid jobs with long and irregular hours.
The British blamed these problems with an unusual shortage in supermarkets and the increase in prices of the basic basket even before the war in Ukraine broke out, responsible for the last great push in global inflation.
Many pubs and restaurants have had a hard time staying open, either because they couldn’t find enough workers or due to a shortage of supplies.
The opposition targeted Johnson on many of the country’s problems for his staunch campaign in favor of Brexit, and several polls even showed discontent and changes of opinion among anti-Europeans before the consequences that the economy was suffering.
Added to this is an underlying problem that began to resurface with more force recently.
When Johnson won in 2019 with a large majority, he was backed by a clear and forceful slogan for his voters: Get Brexit Donate (Get Brexit done).
But since then,Johnson’s critics have insisted on his lack of clarity and ideas in Downing Street, underlines the journalist Owen Amos, one of the BBC’s greatest experts on British politics.
Even his former adviser, Dominic Cummings, became one of his harshest critics, repeatedly accusing him of changing his mind and not mastering the situation.
“Others questioned the prime minister’s philosophy and even if he had any,” says Amos.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.