At the beginning of the weekly Question Time, the British Prime Minister is always asked about his appointments. Those familiar with Commons practice can pray along the normal response: “This morning I had meetings with fellow ministers and others and I will have more such meetings later.”
Boris Johnson and his Conservative government are once again in deep trouble after the resignation of two high-profile ministers on Tuesday evening. The 58-year-old tried to overcome the funeral mood this Wednesday afternoon with a funny remark: “I expect,” says the head of government on call, “to have more such meetings today.”
His group sitting behind him is clearly not in the mood for jokes. The Conservative backbenchers watch with stony faces as opposition leader Keir Starmer first picks his counterpart apart for his half-truths and outright lies and then tramples on the cabinet to the jeers of his Labor faction. The “brigade of lightweights” lacked the guts to force the boss to resign; the Tories are a “corrupt party defending the indefensible.”
The day before, two cabinet heavyweights had justified their farewell with much more elegant words. The British, wrote Finance Minister Rishi Sunak in his veiled criticism of Johnson, rightly expect “correct, competent and serious government action”. Because he wanted to uphold these values, he had to resign. Health Minister Sajid Javid was even clearer. The Conservatives have always ruled competently and in the national interest. “Unfortunately, the public now approves of neither one nor the other.” This is due to the tone and the values of the party leader. “This has implications for your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country.”
Not only Javid and Sunak seem to have come to the conclusion that the constant dishonesty and outright lies from Number Ten Downing Street are damaging to the country and the party. A number of junior and junior government officials also submitted their resignations on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the evening, the influential backbencher committee wanted to redefine its board of directors in 1922, and a majority of Johnson critics was considered secured. These could change the group statutes and enforce a second vote of confidence, which is actually ruled out until next June.
At the first attempt a month ago, Johnson had just won with 59 to 41 percent and then issued the slogan “business as usual”. Two weeks ago, the Tories suffered devastating defeats in two by-elections that indicated they have lost the confidence of both regular voters and supporters recently joined by Brexit. Party chairman Oliver Dowden therefore resigned, but this had no consequences for his cabinet colleagues.
The latest affair revolves around the deputy parliamentary group leader Christopher Pincher. He was completely drunk and molested young men in the conservative Carlton Club – not an isolated case, as it turned out. But how could Johnson appoint the notoriously abusive politician to a government office that includes dealing with sensitive complaints against Conservative MPs?
The prime minister knew nothing of Pincher’s reputation, his spokesman said over the weekend. As a result, the former head of the State Department spoke up on Tuesday: During Pincher’s short stint as political foreign secretary, a complaint against him was examined and found to be correct, of which Johnson was also aware.
The man caught dealt with the accusation of lying as before with Partygate, the lobbying scandals and his disregard for the code of honor for members of the government: he apologized and referred four times in the lower house to the “colossal mandate” that the British gave him in the election two and a half ago years. The orphaned cabinet posts were filled again on Tuesday evening; The weakened boss had to grant the important office of Chancellor of the Exchequer to the ambitious Nadhim Zahawi in order to avert his threatened resignation. The 55-year-old was most recently Secretary of State for Covid vaccinations and then Minister of Education, but above all a reliable apologist for Johnson.
In the House of Commons, former finance and most recently health minister Javid was given the opportunity to explain the reasons for his resignation. The 52-year-old spoke of decency and integrity as the basis of a democracy. He himself had always believed the assurances from Downing Street. “But that’s enough for now.”