Status: 01/22/2022 12:26 p.m
“Partygate” hasn’t changed British Prime Minister Johnson – but the Conservatives have: not all party colleagues have forgiven his nonchalant handling of the scandal. A vote of no confidence is imminent.
The past week has seen many contradictions in Britain: first, a British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who, in an interview with SkyNews broadcaster, spread the aura of a beaten dog. Confronted with the party in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, Johnson’s eyes remained lowered – sentences remained incomplete, he apologized several times. A prime minister on call.
A day later, in the debate in the House of Commons, Johnson seemed exchanged: no word of apology, looking ahead, attack mode. Johnson referred to the record of this government, good economic data and the success of “his” Corona policy. The penitent behavior of the previous day seemed to be forgotten in view of his line of attack and culminated in the statement: “We have more people in work than before the crisis. That’s what my people in Downing Street worked on,” said Johnson, defiantly tossing: “And I am proud of her.”
Proud of the celebration party? That sounds like the defiant reaction of a prime minister who still doesn’t see what was wrong with celebrating in the middle of the pandemic.
Populist attacks as a defense
Johnson have not changed the past few days. For example, criticism from the opposition that he behaved as if he were above the law left no trace on him. Boris Johnson’s system, in which breaking the rules is stylized as a trivial offense against the establishment, continues to work.
In attack defense, Johnson formulates populist goals: to cut the broadcasts for the BBC and to send soldiers to the English Channel to finally stop migration there – something Home Secretary Priti Patel has been trying to do for months but just can’t do it.
Johnson is now primarily a problem for the Conservative Party. The ministers and members of parliament have to assess whether they can still win elections with him at all. The polls are clear: At the moment, the answer must be a clear no. Many Conservative MPs, especially in the constituencies that the Tories wrested from Labor in the first place, are now fearing for their seats and are standing up against Johnson. If there are 54 MPs who speak out against him, a vote of no confidence will be held within the group. Ministers and group cheerleaders are said to have put MPs under massive pressure in a way that is very reminiscent of the political thriller “House of Cards”. The focus is on maintaining power – by all means.
“In the name of God, go!”
Johnson has been through a lot: scandals surrounding MPs’ part-time jobs, the affair over donations for the renovation of his Downing Street apartment. Little always stuck with him. Has this now changed? Will the Prime Minister’s poll ratings improve once some grass has grown over ‘Partygate’? Or is Boris Johnson’s system outdated, are voters finally fed up with populist politics and its type? Local and regional elections will take place in May – the next important station in political Great Britain.
Within the Conservative Party there are also MPs and politicians who not only keep an eye on the polls, but also have a moral claim. David Davis, for example, veteran MP, former minister and Brexit advocate. “In the name of God, go!” he threw at the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, saying it was time to take responsibility for the Partygate affair.
A possible successor is being discussed
Johnson wants to fight to the end. A spokesman said he would face a vote of no confidence if it came to that. The coming week will be significant as Government Official Sue Gray is due to present her investigative report into Downing Street parties in lockdown. Spicy details could prompt other MPs to oppose Johnson and support a vote of no confidence. In the secret vote, 181 out of 360 members of the parliamentary group would then have to lower their thumbs.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is mentioned as a possible successor. He has distanced himself from Johnson in recent days and had visited a company instead of sitting next to Johnson in the debate in the House of Commons two weeks ago. And the otherwise hard-working Twitterer was also reserved on the Internet. The former investment banker is popular within the party and a supporter of Brexit. So there probably won’t be a change of course – at most fewer scandals.