The government of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, was shaken this Tuesday by a crisis of unforeseeable consequences, initiated by the sexual scandal in which Chris Pincher, a conservative parliamentarian close to the prime minister, was involved.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Minister of Health Sajid Javid were two of the first to resign on Tuesday night, calling into question Johnson’s competence to lead the country.
Sunak argued that citizens expect the government to be run in a “proper, competent and serious” way; while Javid claimed that the government was not “acting in the national interest”.
Both resignations fueled expectations that the British government may soon fall.
On Wednesday morning, Minister for Children and Families Will Quince joined Sunak and Javid in sending a letter to Johnson announcing his resignation, after he told the media on Monday that he had been assured that the prime minister He was not aware of a series of allegations against Chris Pincher.
It was later found out that this was not true.
Shortly after the Treasury Secretary, John Glen, joined the series of resignations.
In less than 24 hours, around a dozen officials have left their posts, including Attorney General Alex Chalk and Laura Trott, Parliamentary Secretary at the Department of Transport.
“After all the sleaze, after all the failure, it is clear that this Conservative government is collapsing ,” Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said.
For his part, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Ed Davey, described Johnson’s term as a “government of chaos that has failed the country” and ordered him to resign.
These calls come less than a month after the prime minister faced a vote of no confidence in which 41% of lawmakers from his own party voted against him.
That attempt to remove him took place after photos and evidence of meetings and celebrations at the seat of government came to light while the rest of the country was confined by the restrictions imposed by the Johnson government itself during the covid-pandemic. 19.
NCT answers the key questions about this new crisis that threatens to collapse the Johnson government.
1. The origin of the crisis
On June 30, the British newspaper The Sun published information according to which the then deputy head of the Conservative Party caucus in Parliament, Chris Pincher, had groped two men in a private club in London.
Pincher, who had been appointed to that position by Johnson in February of this year in the midst of an Executive reshuffle, resigned immediately.
Within days, the British media published information about at least six other cases of alleged sexual misconduct by Pincher in recent years.
Pincher, who was suspended by the Conservative Party, has apologized and said he will cooperate fully with investigations into his conduct and is seeking “professional medical support”.
2. How is Boris Johnson involved?
Although the British prime minister is not the one who has engaged in sexual misconduct, the Pincher scandal puts him in a difficult position because his good judgment is being questioned as well as the transparency with which the government has handled the case.
On July 1, the government office told the press that Johnson was not aware of any allegations against Pincher prior to his appointment.
The government spokesman said the prime minister was not aware of “specific allegations” about Pincher.
That was the same line that several members of the cabinet maintained in the following days.
However, on July 4, the president’s spokesman said that Johnson was aware of “allegations that were resolved or did not progress to the grievance phase” and that it was not considered appropriate to stop Pincher’s appointment due to “unsubstantiated allegations.” “.
That same afternoon, however, the NCT revealed that Johnson had been briefed on a formal complaint about Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour” while he worked at the Foreign Office between 2019-2020.
This complaint led to a disciplinary process that confirmed that inappropriate behavior did occur.
Later in an interview with the NCT, Johnson said: “There was a complaint that was brought to my attention specifically… it was a long time ago and it was brought to me orally. But that’s no excuse, I should have acted on it.”
The prime minister described as “a mistake” to have appointed Pincher, whom he said had behaved “very, very badly”, for which he apologized to those affected.
3. Why do they question the prime minister?
“This is all about one thing: the truth,” says NCT Politics editor Chris Mason, analyzing the ongoing crisis in the British government.
“Regardless of the tidal wave of details and accusations, it all comes down to whether people can believe what the number 10 (as the British Executive is colloquially called) says,” he adds.
And it is that the Executive’s response to the Pincher scandal has been changing progressively as other elements have emerged, as happened during the so-called “Partygate”, the case about the parties held at the government headquarters during confinement due to the coronavirus , in which it was finally proven that even Johnson had attended some of these social gatherings.
“The questions are about what Boris Johnson knew and when he knew it. And the answers keep changing, often in response to uncomfortable facts that show his previous defense was rubbish, or at least not as candid as it could have been.” Manson points out.
4. What can happen now?
In theory, after having survived the motion of censure against him just a month ago, Boris Johnson is protected from another such initiative for a year.
This is because it is established by the current rules of the 1922 Committee, the group that groups the common legislators of the British Conservative Party. These indicate that this is the period that must elapse before the party leader can be questioned again.
However, Johnson’s critics want to take advantage of the call to renew the leadership of that committee to try to take control of it and change that rule to make a new motion of censure possible.
Conservative lawmaker Andrew Bridgen, one of Johnson’s most critical, told Sky News that he hopes the new board is in favor of changing that rule so that this limitation can be lifted before the summer break.
Asked by the NCT about the feasibility of this change in the regulations, Sir Graham Brady, current head of the 1922 Committee, said that “technically it is possible”.
In the vote that took place a month ago, Johnson got 211 votes in favor and 148 against.
However, his political situation has deteriorated further in recent days with the Pincher scandal, first, and now with the resignations of his government.
Another mechanism that could lead to Johnson’s departure is for a no-confidence vote to be called in Parliament, in which lawmakers from all parties can participate.
That initiative has already been proposed by the Liberal Democrats, but for it to prosper it would need to be presented by the Labor Party and the government would have to agree that it be included in the Legislative agenda.
It is also possible that resignations will continue to occur within the cabinet, increasing political pressure on Johnson to resign.
But there are several ministers who have already reaffirmed their confidence in Johnson. These include the Minister for Culture, Nadine Dorries; the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and the Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Finally, there is the possibility that the British president will manage to weather the adverse storm as he has done in previous crises that his government has faced, although analysts agree that time is running out.
Conservative MPs and ministers are fed up with not being told the truth and being made to look like fools on TV and radio as a result.
Will Quince, when he had to defend the government over the appointment of Chris Pincher, told the media that he received “categorical assurance” that the prime minister was not aware of any “serious and specific accusations” when he appointed Pincher.
This turned out not to be true.
The prime minister later admitted that he was aware of a formal complaint about Pincher when he was a minister at the Foreign Office in 2019.
Fifteen resigned on Wednesday, saying he “accepted and repeated assurances on Monday to the media that have now been found to be inaccurate.”
He was joined by junior minister Robin Walker and Laura Trott, previously the parliamentary private secretary for transport, who also said she would resign because confidence in politics had been lost.
Those who remain loyal to the prime minister now face an uncomfortable challenge.
They must defend why they feel it is acceptable that the Johnson administration ordered its ministers to say one thing, before changing their position days or even hours later.