LONDON ( Associated Press) – A defiant British Prime Minister Boris Johnson fought to stay in power on Wednesday after two top ministers resigned and several other junior officials who said they no longer function under his scandal-ridden leadership. can do
Johnson is known for his uncanny ability to get out of tight spaces, but a series of misdemeanor allegations have pushed him to the brink, and some of his fellow Conservative lawmakers now worry that a leader famous for his sociability may hold elections. may have a liability. ,
Many are also concerned about the ability of a weakened Johnson, who only survived a no-confidence vote last month, to rule at a time of rising economic and social tensions.
watch: British PM Boris Johnson escapes no-confidence vote after ‘breach’ of COVID rules
At the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in Parliament on Wednesday, members of the opposition Labor Party chanted “Go! Go!
Then, even worse, members of his own Conservative Party challenged the leader. Lawmaker Tim Lawton was the first to ask if there was anything that could prompt him to resign.
Johnson replied, “The job of the prime minister in difficult circumstances, when he has been given a huge mandate, is to keep going.”
His fellow conservatives listened quietly, offering little support.
Grilling was the first of two challenges for the leader on Wednesday. He will later undergo a long-scheduled questioning by a committee of senior MPs.
How he handles tough questions may indicate whether a raging rebellion in his Conservative Party may mobilize enough strength to oust him. Also on the horizon is a vote in a powerful party committee that could signal whether lawmakers have an appetite to push for another antitrust measure.
Months of discontent over Johnson’s decisions and ethics within the governing Conservative Party erupted with the resignations of Treasury Chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid within minutes of each other on Tuesday evening. The two stalwarts in the cabinet were responsible for tackling the two biggest issues facing Britain – the cost of living crisis and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a scathing letter, Sunak said, “The public rightly expects that the government will operate properly, competently and seriously. … I believe these standards are worth fighting for and therefore I am resigning.” “
Javid said the party needed “humility, a grip and a new direction”, but “it is clear that this situation will not change under your leadership.”
Recognizing the need to build confidence, Johnson quickly replaced the two ministers, promoted Nadim Zhawi from the Department of Education to Treasury chief and installed his chief of staff, Steve Barkley, as Secretary of Health. .
But a string of resignations of more junior ministers from both the liberal and right-wing branches of the Conservative Party late Tuesday and early Wednesday showed that the threat to Johnson was not over.
Over the past few months, Johnson has been fined by police and slammed by an investigator’s report for government parties that violated COVID-19 restrictions imposed on others; 41 percent of Conservative lawmakers voted to oust him in a no-confidence vote; and saw the former loyal lieutenant urging him to resign.
Through it all, he has vowed to rule – even suggesting he remains in office until the 2030s.
Read more: Britain’s Boris Johnson ends week of turmoil in vulnerable position
But former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was among several members of the Conservative Party who told Johnson his time was up.
“It’s a bit like Rasputin’s death. He was poisoned, stabbed, shot, his body thrown into a frozen river and he’s still alive,” he told the BBC “But this is an unusual prime minister, a wonderfully charismatic, very funny, very entertaining, big, big character. But I’m afraid he has neither the character nor the temperament to be our prime minister.”
The final straw for Sunak and Javid was the prime minister’s explanation of his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a senior Conservative MP.
Last week, Chris Pincher resigned as Conservative deputy chief whip following complaints about two men groping at a private club. This triggered a series of reports about the previous charges leveled against Pincher and what Johnson knew when he tapped Pincher for a senior job enforcing party discipline.
Johnson’s office initially said he was not aware of the previous allegations when he promoted Pincher in February. As of Monday, a spokesman said Johnson was aware of the allegations – but they were “either resolved or did not proceed to a formal complaint.”
When a former top civil servant at the Foreign Office denied this, Johnson was told of the 2019 allegations, resulting in a formal complaint, with Johnson’s office saying the prime minister had forgotten about the briefing.
It was too much for ministers sent on radio and TV to defend the government’s position, only for it to change.
Bim Afolami, who stepped down as Conservative Party vice-president on Tuesday, said he was prepared to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt – as long as the Pincher case was not.
“The difficulty is not with the program of the government as a whole. … the government has done many positive things that unite the Conservative Party,” he said. “The problem is the character and integrity in Downing Street, and I think the people of the Conservative Party and the people of the country know that.”
But Paul Drexler, president of the International Chamber of Commerce, warned that rising food and energy prices are approaching crisis proportions and need to be addressed by a leader who is not distracted.
“I would say the most important thing is to feed the hungry,” he told the BBC. “I mean there is a burning stage at the moment. The poorest people in our society are going to starve in the second half of this year. This needs to be addressed.”
Johnson’s opponents in the party expect more cabinet ministers to follow Sunak and Javid, although for now other top officials – including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel – have been kept.
Opponents are also trying to impose another no-confidence motion on the Prime Minister. Current rules require 12 months between such votes, but rules are made by a party committee and can be changed. Elections for the executive committee of that committee are to be held in the next few weeks.