On the 7th July 2022, Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister mired in scandal, resigned. Except he didn’t. .Not really. In a self-aggrandising speech, he vaguely expressed his intention to step down, maybe in the autumn some time. He said that his ministers were “eccentric” for calling on him to resign, and added “but them’s the breaks”. Really.
At the time of writing, over 50 ministers have resigned from the government, keen to abandon the sinking Johnson ship. Rats leaving King Rat. On 5th July Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, accepted a promotion to Chancellor, stating his full confidence in the PM. Yet by the morning of 7th July he was calling for his resignation, in a letter weirdly libellous to Jeremy Corbyn. It seems they were really worried about Corbyn. The newly promoted Education Secretary, Michelle Donelan, lasted two days before resigning. It is worth noting that ministers are automatically given a three-months salary pay-off after leaving government.
Johnson has been clinging to power, making a Trump-esque spectacle of himself. The once popular dishevelled clown of a politician is now deeply unpopular with voters. Even the monarchist types celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee booed him. It was obvious his days were numbered after he’d lost the patriotic royalist crowd. Even now he seems determined to stay, planning a big wedding party at the PM’s summer residence Chequers. Why has he resigned? Will we ever be actually rid of him? And what fresh horror will replace him?
So Many Scandals
There have been so many scandals during Johnson’s reign, it is hard to remember them all. We have had the PPE Contracts scandal, the Track and Trace App scandal, the Partygate scandal during which the PM and his cronies broke COVID rules and held parties while ordinary people were isolating and dying without their loved ones. Johnson received a fine for this from the Metropolitan Police, but what’s a fine to a rich man? He shrugged off calls to resign over that particular scandal.
There has been the scandal of Johnson trying to get his wife (then-mistress) a highly paid job in government. There was the scandal where he gave a different mistress public money and access to foreign trade missions as London Mayor. The scandal of his then-mistress allegedly giving him oral sex in his office. Apologies if you were a bit sick in your mouth there. A scandal about his time as London Mayor, during which he allegedly tried to procure a job for a young woman in return for her sexual involvement with him, has recently surfaced. He has also faced allegations of groping a journalist.
The scandal that finished him off was one involving sexual assault allegations about someone other than him. Johnson appointed Chris Pincher as Tory deputy Chief Whip, despite knowing that there were existing sexual assault allegations against him. Chris Pincher then allegedly groped two men and it was made known that Johnson was aware of his reputation. That unpleasant reputation being “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”. Johnson initially lied about knowing about the allegations, until evidence was produced proving he did.
This scandal, apparently, was the final straw for his government ministers. They miraculously grew a moral backbone and started to resign. First Sajid Javid his Health Secretary resigned, then Rishi Sunak his Chancellor. A steady stream of ministerial resignations followed, and previously loyal backbench MPs made a public show of withdrawing their support.
It seems clear that these hitherto enthusiastic Johnson supporters have not all suddenly had an attack of conscience. They have not suddenly been released from a collective trance. Rishi Sunak’s website domain for his leadership bid, readyforrishi.com looks to have been registered since December 2021. It is well-known that Johnson is a notorious liar intent on furthering his own interests. This is news to nobody. They supported him until their own self-interest was threatened. During every previous scandal, every action that has harmed people, they have been involved or complicit. They could have resigned or spoken out at any point.
Johnson is odious, but he was just the figurehead of a rotten and corrupt government. The biggest, greediest pig at the trough of other greedy pigs. Ministers were happy to hand out PPE contracts to their ill-equipped mates during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, profit came before the lives of ordinary people. Priti Patel, who has also called for Johnson to resign, as Home Secretary has pursued a vicious anti-refugee agenda. These are not ‘good Tories’, no matter what liberals with short memories might say. Former PM Theresa May is not a ‘Girl Boss’ despite revelling in Johnson’s downfall. Remember the ‘Go Home Vans’?
Unfortunately, the official Labour opposition is led by unpopular sentient ham Sir Keir Starmer QC, flanked by equally uninspiring careerist voids. Instead of vigorously pursuing Johnson, they have focussed their efforts on badmouthing the former leader (they were worried about him too), facilitating the bullying of Muslim women and fixing internal candidate selections. They have an open goal with this corrupt failing government but seem intent on kicking the shins of their teammates and supporters instead.
Starmer issued a statement stating that Johnson was “always unfit to govern”. Which is odd given that his line during the Johnson government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic was “we support the government”, even praising the government’s Covid response as an “amazing piece of work”. He was spotted in the royal box at Wimbledon on the day Johnson resigned. His own potential scandal, beergate, perhaps had him on the back foot, although he has been consistently useless at holding the government to account. Why change now?
What happens next?
So far, 11 Tories have thrown their hats into the leadership ring, including Sunak (be a shame not to use that website), Javid and Zahawi. The complete rogue’s gallery of contenders is here. They seem determined to outdo each other in terms of bigotry and tax cutting.
The process of choosing a new chief pig is going to take around 8 weeks – it is being reported now that Johnson will remain as PM until September 6th, and then presumably be removed from 10 Downing Street kicking and screaming, his hands full of gold wallpaper.
A sign of hope has appeared on the horizon in the form of strikes by the RMT rail union and other groups of workers such as legal aid barristers, teachers and health workers. As the official opposition is not up to the job, it is time for the resurgence of working class power. There are more of us than them, and the smears will be harder to pin on us all, although they will try.
As RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said at the Durham Miner’s Gala, “The working class is back. We refuse to be meek, we refuse to be humble, and we refuse to be poor anymore!”. Let’s mostly ignore the internal Tory squabbles, leave the official opposition to their own internal machinations, and get ready for the fight of our lives. It’s time they were worried about us all.