Boris’ last stand By Stuart Pilcher
When Boris Johnson proclaimed at the end of June that he planned to serve for another 10 years as Prime Minister, it probably didn’t cross his mind that he may be forced out in little over 10 days.
However, after a seismic 24 hours in politics, in which Sajid Javid resigned as Health Secretary and Rishi Sunak resigned as Chancellor within minutes of each other, alongside the slew of other middle-ranking and junior ministerial resignations, it’s more evident than ever that Boris Johnson’s luck may just have run out.
But let’s take a step back and see how we got here. The latest scandal in Number 10 has occurred not over parties during lockdown or the redecoration of a flat, but ministerial misconduct and a fatal lack of communication within the heart of Government. Amid confusing and contradictory lines about the former deputy whip, the crisis came to a head when former senior Civil Servant Simon MacDonald released a letter stating that Johnson had been briefed “in person” about the relevant allegations well before this week, stating that Downing Street had, in effect, lied about what they knew or didn’t know.
Less than twelve hours later, two of the most senior Cabinet Ministers within Johnson’s Government had resigned.
So where are we now? Much of the Cabinet has rallied around the PM, giving full throated or at least lukewarm statements of support. However, Johnson is in real trouble. The influential 1922 Committee, which represents backbench Tory MPs, has met this evening (6th July) to discuss how to proceed. It seems that they have confirmed the timetable for a elections to the Committee, taking place on Monday of next week. The new make-up of the committee could rewrite the rules around no confidence votes so that another one, less than a month after Johnson narrowly survived a first attempt at removing him, takes place again. Otherwise, they could decide to send a delegation of the ‘men in grey suits’ to the Prime Minister to persuade him that his time is up. And that is before a delegation of Cabinet ministers speak to the Prime Minister to persuade him to resign now.
If another confidence vote is held and the Prime Minister loses, which at this point would be expected, he will be deposed, and a new leader of the Conservative Party will be selected through a Leadership Contest which would run over the Summer months. There will be a number of runners and riders, those who you may have heard of and those you may not have.
Even at the time of writing, more and more ministers and PPS’ are resigning from their roles. Westminster is currently a febrile atmosphere with almost all Tory MPs looking over their shoulders. As someone who has 10 years’ experience working in and around the Party, it can be messy, chaotic and driven by drama. But the one thing that it is good at is winning elections. Only time will tell whether the man who won in London twice and secured an 80-seat majority has tarnished the Conservative brand so much that it will be unelectable, even under a new leader.