UK’s Boris Johnson defiant even as scores of officials quit


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rebuffed calls for his resignation from his cabinet and across the Conservative Party, holding firm on Thursday even as dozens of officials resigned and previously loyal allies urged him to stand down after another scandal engulfed Britain. his leadership.

A group of Johnson’s most trusted cabinet ministers visited him at his Downing Street office on Wednesday and told him to stand down after losing the confidence of his party. But Johnson instead chose to fight for his political career and fired one of the cabinet officials, Michael Gove, British media reported.

It is rare for a prime minister to cling to office in the face of so much pressure from his cabinet colleagues. The Guardian’s front page on Thursday called him “Desperate, Deceived.”

As of early Thursday, four cabinet ministers had resigned; the latest was Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis, who told Johnson in his resignation letter that “we have… passed the point of no return. I cannot sacrifice my personal integrity to defend things as they stand.” now.

Some 40 junior government officials also walked out amid a furor over Johnson’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a top official that was the latest in a long line of issues that rankled Conservative lawmakers.

“He has violated the trust that was placed in him. She needs to recognize that she no longer has the moral authority to lead. And for him, it’s over,” Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford told The Associated Press.

Johnson cannot continue because his government does not even have ministers to attend to the regular business of Parliament after so many resignations, Blackford added.

Johnson’s future remains extremely uncertain. Until now, most Cabinet officials have remained in his posts, but a massive Cabinet strike could force him out if it leaves him unable to run a functioning government.

If Johnson still refuses to resign, the Conservatives could oust him by potentially triggering a new no-confidence vote.

Johnson survived such a vote on June 6, though his authority took a beating because even then 41 percent of his lawmakers voted to get rid of him. Under current party rules, a year must pass before another formal leadership challenge can take place.

But an influential group of conservative lawmakers known as the 1922 Committee has the power to rewrite the rules to allow a new vote of confidence in a shorter period of time. The committee could decide on Monday whether to do that.

Johnson, 58, is known for his ability to get out of tight spots. He has remained in power despite accusations that he was too close to the party’s donors, that he shielded supporters from accusations of intimidation and corruption, and that he misled Parliament and was dishonest with the public about party parties. government offices that violated pandemic lockdown rules.

But recent revelations that Johnson knew about sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, a Conservative lawmaker, before he promoted the man to a senior job brought the prime minister to the brink.

Last week, Pincher resigned as deputy whip chief following complaints that he groped two men at a private club. That set off a series of reports about past allegations against Pincher, and shifting explanations from the government about what Johnson knew when he appointed him to a high-level post in party discipline enforcement.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury chief Rishi Sunak resigned within minutes of each other on Wednesday over the scandal. The two cabinet heavyweights were responsible for tackling two of the biggest issues facing Britain: the cost of living crisis and COVID-19.

Javid captured the mood of many lawmakers when he said Johnson’s actions threaten to undermine the integrity of the Conservative Party and the British government.

“At some point we have to conclude that enough is enough,” he told fellow lawmakers Wednesday. “I think that point is now.”

The resignations of some 40 junior ministers and ministerial assistants followed on Tuesday and Wednesday. A third cabinet official, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, resigned on Wednesday night, saying “we are past the point” where it is possible to “turn the boat around”, with Lewis leaving on Thursday morning.

Many of Johnson’s fellow conservatives worried that he no longer had the moral authority to govern at a time when difficult decisions are needed to address rising food and energy prices, rising COVID-19 infections, 19 and the war in Ukraine. Others worry that he could now be a liability at the polls.

But Johnson downplayed the attacks, citing the mandate voters gave him when he came to power in 2019.

“Frankly… the prime minister’s job in difficult circumstances, when you’ve been given a colossal mandate, is to get on with it,” Johnson told critics in Parliament on Wednesday. “And that’s what I’ll do”.

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