Why did he finally agree to leave?
The shock resignation on Tuesday of two influential ministers who question the integrity of Boris Johnson was followed on Wednesday by the announcement of the departure of dozens of members of the government, which seemed to put the Prime Minister at the foot of the wall. However, he had insisted in the evening in front of members of the cabinet seeking to convince him to leave of the need to continue his work. A few more resignations were added to the list early Thursday morning before Mr Johnson announced, in an address outside 10 Downing Street, that he was giving up his party leadership and would stay on as Prime Minister until the Conservative Party nominate his successor. “He finally accepted that he had no more solutions to get out of it,” said Christopher Stafford, a British political scientist, in an interview. Boris Johnson could have continued to hang on, but he was almost certain, notes the researcher, to quickly suffer a vote of no confidence promising to turn out “very badly” for him after surviving a first vote of this nature in June.
How did Boris Johnson explain his decision?
The Prime Minister has been criticized on several occasions for having lied about scandals that shook his government, in particular the “partygate” which concerned the holding of several drunken evenings in his official residence in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic . He was again caught out last week over what he knew about the past of an ally who was appointed in February as the party’s deputy chief whip despite significant misconduct. He did not make any apologies for his excesses on Thursday during his speech, instead accusing the elected Conservatives of having been carried away by a “pack effect” preventing them from recognizing the importance of his government’s achievements. The absence of a mea culpa comes as no surprise to Steven Fielding, a political scientist from the University of Nottingham. “He is convinced that he has nothing to reproach himself for and thinks that the people who blame him are crazy,” notes the researcher.
Can he temporarily remain as Prime Minister despite the importance of the opposition against him in the Conservative ranks?
Several members of the party said on Thursday that they disagreed with the possibility of Boris Johnson remaining prime minister until his successor is appointed and replaces him at the head of the government, a process that could take several months. Former Tory Prime Minister John Major has said it is unthinkable for the politician to stay in power as he has lost the confidence of the government and elected officials and is urging him to make way for Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab . The Prime Minister assured his side that he would not seek to put in place new policies or to impose “major changes of direction” on the government while waiting for his successor to be appointed. According to Mr Stafford, only a vote of no confidence lost in the House of Commons would be likely to force Boris Johnson to leave before then, but it would bring down the Conservative government and put the party in a perilous position when it currently has of an “all-proof” majority ensuring its maintenance in power. It seems unlikely that many elected Conservatives will vote in this direction if the Labor opposition asks as it promises a vote of this nature, notes the researcher, who instead expects that the Prime Minister’s Conservative opponents will seek to shorten the process of appointing his successor to speed up his departure.
Should we expect a tight succession race?
Mr Fielding notes that Boris Johnson has long been considered entrenched as leader of the Conservative Party because he was seen as the only politician charismatic enough to bring victory to the party at the polls. Now that his exit is confirmed, several elected officials may scramble to replace him. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Penny Mordaunt are among the favorites according to a BBC analysis. Normally, the candidates face each other in a series of elimination votes held among the elected Conservatives. The two remaining at the end then campaign before a final vote by the full party membership. The process took two months after the announcement of the departure in 2019 of former Prime Minister Theresa May, who had also served as interim, but could be shortened in this case, according to Mr. Stafford. “A lot of elected officials want Johnson out for good before they can do more damage to the party,” he notes.
What assessment can we make of Boris Johnson’s mandate?
Boris Johnson, Steven Fielding notes, is exceptionally skilled in campaigning, helping him lead the Conservative Party to a landslide victory in the 2019 parliamentary election, but he has little to show for after three years in office. Brexit has been formalized, but some problems remain and its economic impact looks very problematic. His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite some vaccination successes, has resulted in a high death toll, Fielding adds, noting that repeated scandals have plagued the whole of the world. government action. Frédéric Mérand, professor of political science at the University of Montreal, thinks that the politician must be given credit for having formalized Brexit even if some issues remain unresolved. He has also been constructive, he says, in terms of foreign policy, in particular by his support for Ukraine in the face of Russia. “Internally, it’s a failure all along the line since he has done practically nothing of what he had promised,” notes the researcher, who also insists on the importance of the scandals that occurred under his leadership. . “We are more likely to remember the character than his achievements,” notes Mr. Mérand.