LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson clung to power on Wednesday, seriously injured by the resignations of ministers who said he was unfit to rule and with a growing number of lawmakers calling on him to leave .
Johnson’s finance and health ministers stepped down on Tuesday, along with several in more junior positions, as they said they could no longer remain in government after the latter in a string of scandals destroyed his government. read more
With increasing calls for Johnson to leave, he showed his determination to stay in office by appointing businessman and education minister Nadhim Zahawi as his new finance minister and filling some of the other vacancies. read more
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Zahawi told reporters he would look at all options to rebuild and grow the struggling economy and contain rising inflation when asked whether he would cut taxes, such as corporate taxes. read more
The level of hostility Johnson faces within his party will be revealed later on Wednesday when he appears in parliament for his weekly questioning session, and before the chairmen of select committees for a scheduled two-hour barbecue.
“I suspect we’ll have to drag him out of Downing Street kicking and screaming,” a conservative lawmaker told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But if we have to do it that way, we’ll do it.”
Johnson, a former journalist and mayor of London who became the face of Britain’s departure from the European Union, won a landslide election victory in 2019 before taking a combative and often chaotic approach to government.
His leadership has been mired in scandals and missteps in recent months, with the prime minister being fined by police for violating the COVID-19 lockdown laws and a scathing report published on the behavior of officials at his Downing Street office who are holding their own. have broken lockdown rules. read more
There have also been policy changes, an ill-fated defense of a lawmaker who has broken lobbying rules, and criticism that he hasn’t done enough to address a cost of living crisis, with many Britons grappling with rising fuel and gas prices. food prices.
The Times of London newspaper said Johnson’s “serial dishonesty” was “extremely corrosive” to an effective government.
“Every day he stays, the sense of chaos deepens,” he said. “For the good of the country, he must go.”
The latest drama at the heart of British power comes as the economy is rapidly deteriorating, with some economists warning the country could be plunged into recession.
In the latest scandal, Johnson apologized for appointing a lawmaker to a role in the party’s welfare and discipline, even after being informed that the politician had been the subject of complaints of sexual misconduct.
Downing Street’s story has changed several times from what the Prime Minister knew about the past behavior of that politician, who was forced to resign, and when he knew it.
That prompted Rishi Sunak to step down as chancellor of the treasury – the finance minister – and Sajid Javid to resign as health minister, while ten others left their junior ministerial or legislature positions.
“It is clear to me that under your leadership this situation will not change – and that is why you have lost my confidence,” Javid said in his resignation letter.
Several ministers cited Johnson’s lack of judgment, standards and inability to tell the truth.
A quick YouGov poll found that 69% of Britons thought Johnson should resign as prime minister, but for now the rest of his top ministerial team has offered their support.
“I fully support the Prime Minister,” said Scottish minister Alister Jack. “I am sorry to see good colleagues resign, but we have a big job to do.”
A month ago, Johnson survived a confidence vote from conservative lawmakers, and party rules prevent him from taking on such a challenge for another year.
However, some lawmakers are seeking to change those rules, while he is also under investigation by a parliamentary committee into whether he lied to parliament about COVID-19 lockdown violations.
Nominations are expected to open on Wednesday for the director of the so-called 1922 committee that sets the rules for confidence votes for leaders. Johnson critics hope to elect enough people to change the rules to allow another such vote before the 12-month grace period allows.
If Johnson left, the process to replace him could take a few months.
Just two-and-a-half years ago, the ebullient Johnson won a huge majority in parliament on a pledge to arrange Britain’s exit from the European Union after years of bitter bickering.
But since then, his initial handling of the pandemic has been widely criticized and the government has flung from one predicament to another.
Although Johnson received wider praise for his support of Ukraine, a rise in his personal opinion polls did not last. His conservatives follow the opposition Labor party and his own popularity figures are at an all-time low.
Johnson’s combative approach to the European Union has also weighed on the pound, exacerbating inflation, which is expected to top 11%.
“After all the sleaze, the scandals and the failures, it is clear that this government is now collapsing,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Writing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton, editing by Rosalba O’Brien
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.