- BBC News World
In just 24 hours, the bad news has grown at breakneck speed for the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The president faces a serious crisis of confidence on the part of the members of his own party that began on Tuesday with the resignations of the ministers of Economy and Health, to which by Wednesday afternoon the resignations of more than 40 senior officials, including dozens of deputy ministers.
Thus, Johnson has become the British leader who has received the most resignations from his cabinet since 1932.
As if that were not enough, this Wednesday Michael Gove, a veteran member of the government, asked the prime minister to resign, a request that was later seconded by several of the main ministers of the government, including the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel.
These appeals were also joined by the attorney general, Suella Braverman, who also announced his intentions to compete for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
But Johnson is reluctant to step down and appears willing to fight to the bitter end and, in fact, instead of taking Gove’s advice, fired him.
“There is no lectern tonight outside number 10…the prime minister is still fighting“, a source from the British Executive told the BBC, referring to the custom of the leaders in that country to make important announcements in front of the seat of government at number 10 Downing Street.
This Wednesday, Johnson continued his activities as normal and, in fact, appeared before a Parliament committee in which made clear his intention to continue in government.
During the question session, Johnson rejected the affirmations that put in doubt the viability of his government, assuring that “of course” that tomorrow he would continue being prime minister.
“If you want to ask me what we’re doing to help people with the cost of living, if you ask what we’re doing to build more clean energy sources, something this committee has been interested in, then I’m very interested in tell them, but I am not going to give you a comment on political events and let’s continue with the government of the country“, he claimed.
The president also dismissed the possibility of convening early elections and said he sees no reason to do it before two years.
Johnson also received signs of support on Wednesday from important ministers who continue to support him, such as the Minister for Culture, Nadine Dorries, and the Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
In his meetings at the government headquarters, the president would have reminded the ministers who asked him to resign that his government came out of the polls with strong popular support.
“He has been explaining to them [a los ministros del gabinete] that 14 million people voted for him,” the Executive source told the BBC.
He added that if the Conservative Party “wants to deprive [a Johnson] to do that job, you have to take away that mandate.
The crisis that haunts Johnson was triggered by a sex scandal involving Chris Pincher, a Conservative MP close to the prime minister.
Johnson appointed Pincher as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party caucus in February.
On June 30, the British newspaper The Sun published a report according to which the then deputy leader of the Conservative Party caucus in Parliament, Chris Pincher, had groped two men in a private club in London.
Later, other similar accusations arose for acts allegedly that occurred in recent years.
After repeatedly pointing out that the prime minister did not know of any allegations against Pincher, the British government and Johnson himself admitted that he had been informed.
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Johnson said: “There was a complaint that was brought to me specifically… it was a long time ago and they presented it to me orally. But that’s no excuse, I should have acted on it.”
The prime minister described as “a mistake” to have appointed Pincher, whom he said had behaved “very, very badly”, for which he apologized to those affected.
“I want to make it clear that there is no place in this government for anyone who engages in predatory behavior or who abuses their position of power,” he said.
And it is that the response of the Executive to the Pincher scandal was progressively changing as new elements emerged, as it happened during the call “partygate“the case about the parties held at the seat of government during the coronavirus confinement, in which it was finally proven that even Johnson had attended some of these social gatherings.
The calls for Johnson to resign come just a month after the prime minister faced a no-confidence motion in parliament in which 41% of lawmakers from his own party voted against him.
Boris Johnson’s end as prime minister seems imminent
Analysis by Chris Mason, BBC Politics Editor
Sometimes politics is subtle. Today was not one of those days.
Sitting in the press box while the prime minister answered MPs’ questions, one could feel and hear Boris Johnson’s authority slip away.
Tribalism is measured in decibels at Westminster, and the Conservative caucus was almost silent. The noise came from the opposition caucus in what was the toughest control session for Boris Johnson since he won the elections.
By afternoon the letters of resignation and lack of confidence were piling up, and even those most loyal to Johnson acknowledged privately, but also openly and in detail, that the game was over.
“Is it the end?” I asked a cabinet minister. “I’m afraid so. It’s a matter of hours and days,” he replied.
Then, one after another, various ministers sent me messages saying that they were going to see Johnson tonight to tell him explicitly that he had to go.
Westminster is defined by power. And tonight is changing. Boris Johnson’s end as prime minister seems imminent.
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.