Analysis: Boris Johnson is in big trouble – even his own party is turning against him

While the government ultimately won a series of votes on new coronavirus measures, it did so out of the indignity of relying on opposition votes. In total, 99 Tory MPs challenged Johnson, erasing his majority of 79 seats and leaving Johnson exposed.
In short, very. The past two weeks have been dominated by reports that he and his team held social rallies in Downing Street in winter 2020 as the rest of the country was under coronavirus restrictions and such gatherings were illegal.

Johnson insisted he believed no rules had been broken and asked one of his senior officials to investigate the alleged parties.

And on Wednesday, an image emerged of a Christmas party held at Conservative Party headquarters on December 14 of last year.

The photo, obtained and published by The Mirror newspaper, shows 24 people at an event for Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey at party headquarters in London.

The Conservatives did not respond to CNN calls for comment on the newly discovered photo, but the Conservative Party had already distanced itself from the event and Bailey.

The issue of Christmas rallies, or PartyGate as it’s called, arose just after a sordid scandal in which Johnson whipped his MPs to overturn the 30-day suspension of a Tory colleague who broke lobbying rules. . Owen Patterson had sent several emails to government officials on behalf of two companies which together paid him a salary of £ 100,000 ($ 133,000) as a consultant. He initially denied any wrongdoing, but ultimately resigned his post as an MP.

There have been other scandals about how the Prime Minister paid for the renovation of his apartment and who paid for the luxury vacations he took.

The mounting scandals and inter-party issues are a gift to Johnson’s critics – and the reports are starting to reach the public, opinion polls suggest. Every week, the Leader of the Opposition can question the Prime Minister in Parliament, and on Wednesday Labor leader Keir Starmer twisted the knife, asking Johnson about the rebellion the night before.

“If more votes are needed to save lives,” the Labor Party would follow Starmer’s lead and help pass the essential measures if its own MPs did not back it. Starmer asked: “Does the Prime Minister understand why his own MPs do not trust him?” Johnson declined to answer this specific question.

Starmer asked why people should follow rules that seem to be ignored by many in Downing Street. Johnson was visibly upset by this line of inquiry.

All of this has seriously damaged Johnson’s reputation, whether one goes by personal approval ratings or polls. The Politico poll has the Tories four points behind the opposition Labor Party, while 65% of people disapprove of his leadership.

However, the prime minister is probably not in immediate danger of losing his job. In order to remove Johnson from office, 15% of his MPs would have to send letters to the chairman of a group of backbench Tory MPs, known as the 1922 Committee, calling for a vote of confidence in his leadership.

The number of letters sent is still kept secret, but it is not believed to be close to this threshold. Even if he were affected, Johnson is unlikely to lose the vote. This in turn would shield him from another leadership challenge for 12 months. It would not be in the best interests of those seeking to impeach Johnson to show their hand by voting against him to lose. And there’s an argument that keeping him at post damaged enough that he can be controlled might be the best way forward right now – no one wants to pick up their mess.

There is also little prospect of a vote in parliament that could bring down his government. Losing a protest vote that your rebels know will echo opposition votes is very different from a vote that could bring down a government and call a general election.

But none of this means Johnson is completely safe. There is a theory that political leaders do not end with one blow, but with a thousand cuts.

Individual events don’t suddenly turn people around and change their minds, but the general stench does catch up with you eventually. And for a politician like Johnson, it’s dangerous.

He came into office with a reputation for not being entirely trustworthy. The circumstances in which he won the 2019 election were extremely unusual (Brexit was deadlocked and then opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn was historically unpopular with voters).

The danger for Johnson is that many voters think that if someone can lie about one thing, say details of how Brexit works, it is only a step to believing that he will lie about anything. .

And unfortunately for Johnson, it is possible that he has passed the point of no return and that these scandals will follow him until the end of his term. The question is, how soon will this happen?


Comments are closed.