November 30, 2022

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Britain's Boris Johnson on edge as ministers resign

Britain’s Boris Johnson on edge as ministers resign

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson clinging to power on Wednesday was seriously injured by the resignation of ministers who said he was unfit to govern and as more lawmakers called for him to leave.

Johnson’s finance and health ministers resigned on Tuesday, along with several in smaller positions, saying they could no longer stay in government after the latest in a string of scandals that has marred his administration. Read more

As calls for Johnson’s resignation escalated, he showed his determination to stay in office by appointing businessman and education minister Nadim al-Zahawi as his new finance minister, and filling some other positions. Read more

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Al-Zahawi told reporters that he would consider all options to rebuild and develop the faltering economy and tame soaring inflation when asked if he would cut taxes such as the corporate tax. Read more

The level of hostility Johnson faces within his party will be revealed later on Wednesday when he appears before Parliament for the weekly question session, and before select committee chairs in a scheduled two-hour questioning session.

“I think we’re going to have to drag him kicking and screaming from Downing Street,” a Conservative MP told Reuters, asking not to be named. “But if we have to do it this way we will.”

Johnson, the former journalist and mayor of London who became the face of Brexit, won a landslide election victory in 2019 before taking a combative and often chaotic approach to government.

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His leadership has been mired in scandals and missteps over the past few months, with police fining the prime minister for breaching COVID-19 lockdown laws and a damning report published on the behavior of officials in his Downing Street office who violated their lockdown rules. Read more

There have also been shifts in policy, an unfortunate defense of a lawmaker who broke lobbying rules, and criticism that he has not done enough to tackle the cost of living crisis, as many Britons struggle to deal with rising fuel and food prices.

The Times of London said Johnson’s “serial lie” on the part was “totally devastating” to effective government.

“Every day he stays there the sense of chaos deepens,” she said. “For the good of the country, he must go.”

The latest bout of drama comes at the heart of British power with the economy rapidly deteriorating, with some economists warning the country could slip into recession.

lost confidence

The latest scandal saw Johnson apologizing for appointing a lawmaker to a role related to party welfare and discipline, even after being told that the politician had been the subject of complaints about sexual misconduct.

The Downing Street narrative has changed several times about what the Prime Minister knew about the past behavior of that politician, who was forced to resign, and when he learned about it.

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This prompted Rishi Sunak to resign as Finance Minister – Finance Minister – and Sajid Javid to resign as Health Minister, while ten others left their ministerial or envoy positions.

“It is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – so you have also lost my confidence,” Javid said in his resignation letter.

Several ministers cited Johnson’s lack of judgment and standards and an inability to tell the truth.

An early YouGov poll showed 69% of Britons believe Johnson should step down as prime minister, but for now, the rest of his ministerial team have offered their support.

“I fully support the Prime Minister,” said Scottish Minister Alistair Jack. “I’m sorry to see good colleagues quitting, but we have a lot of work to do.”

A month ago, Johnson survived a confidence vote for Conservative MPs, and party rules mean he can’t face another such challenge for a year.

However, some lawmakers are seeking to change these rules, while also being investigated by a parliamentary committee over whether he lied to Parliament about the COVID-19 lockdown violations.

Nominations are expected to open on Wednesday to the executive branch of the so-called 1922 Committee, which sets the rules for a leadership vote of confidence. Johnson’s critics hope to elect enough people to change the rules to allow another such vote before the 12-month grace period allows.

Were Johnson gone, the process of replacing him could take two months.

Just two and a half years ago, an impassioned Johnson won a huge parliamentary majority on a promise to sort out Brexit after years of bitter wrangling.

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But since then, his initial handling of the pandemic has been widely criticized, and the government has moved from one predicament to another.

Although Johnson won wider plaudits for his support of Ukraine, the rise in his personal ratings in opinion polls did not last. The Conservative Party follows the opposition Labor Party, and its popularity is at an all-time low.

Johnson’s combative approach to the European Union has also weighed on the pound, exacerbating inflation that is expected to exceed 11%.

“After all the corruption, scandals and failures, it is clear that this government is now collapsing,” said Labor leader Keir Starmer.

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Writing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.