After four days of celebrating the anniversary, there is a hangover in London: the parties celebrated in Downing Street during the corona lockdown could still cost Prime Minister Boris Johnson his office.
Showdown in the “Partygate” affair: After months of criticism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has to face a vote of no confidence from his Conservative Party.
Only a few hours after the last sounds of the rushing “Jubilee” bash for Queen Elizabeth II fell silent in London, on Monday it’s back to hard politics – more precisely: to Johnson’s political survival. On the same day, the 180 MPs of the Tory party should decide whether they want to continue to be led by him or not. If a majority votes against Johnson, he will lose his position as prime minister for the time being.
On Monday morning, the head of the responsible party committee, Graham Brady, announced in London that the necessary number of letters – i.e. at least 54 – had been received from Tory MPs. The threshold of at least 15 percent has thus been reached. The explosive news, which is likely to have sobered up many a sobering Briton, is no coincidence: when asked, Brady indirectly confirmed that the anniversary celebrations in honor of the Queen in the past few days had not been overshadowed by the news.
Because of excessive parties
Johnson has been under domestic pressure since it emerged bit by bit over the winter that excessive parties were being held at his official residence while the rest of Britain sat in long lockdowns and was unable to say goodbye to dying loved ones.
Party colleagues have repeatedly publicly demanded that Johnson, who tolerated the celebration culture and even participated in some, should resign. However, the number of critics has never reached the necessary threshold to trigger the vote of no confidence – not even when Johnson was fined for attending one of the parties, becoming the first sitting prime minister to have been shown to have broken the law. The outbreak of war in Ukraine led some critics at times to believe it was not the right time for a change in leadership.
Only the recently published investigative report by top official Sue Gray, which gave those responsible in Downing Street a devastating certificate of good conduct, encouraged other MPs to forward their letters to the influential 1922 committee and its chairman Brady write. The final straw could also have come from boos from Royal fans, who were clearly heard as Johnson arrived with his wife Carrie for the anniversary service at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday.
Not necessarily the end for Johnson
The vote of no confidence passed on Monday evening between 18. and 20. pm (local time) does not necessarily mean Johnson’s political end. 180 MPs would have to vote against him to impeach him. This is considered a high hurdle: Many Tories fear for their offices or seats in parliament in the next election, especially since Johnson is considered a gifted campaigner. Members of his cabinet rushed on Twitter on Monday to assure their prime minister “100 percent backing” and to emphasize that he was involved in the “big calls”, i.e. the major political decisions of the past years, rightly located. In the afternoon, Johnson wanted to talk to his party colleagues in private. What could also play into his hands: None of his potential successors are seen as clear, promising alternatives.
If the prime minister survives the vote, he can keep his office and is safe for at least a year under the current rules. However, the vote alone is considered a heavy blow. Johnson, who has repeatedly apologized for “Partygate”, has so far vehemently refused to resign voluntarily. The prompt reaction from Downing Street sounded confident of victory: the vote was an opportunity for the government to “end months of speculation and draw a line under it,” it said. In any case, there were signs of a long day in Westminster: how the showdown for the party premier will end should be announced on Monday evening. (dpa)