Boris Johnson’s government loses support between scandals and crisis | After the setback for the Conservatives in the municipal elections of Great Britain

From London

A Boris Johnson neither the war in Ukraine nor his message to that country’s parliament last Tuesday nor last-minute housing announcements saved him. the blunt defeat in those midterm elections which are the municipal ones in Great Britain, left the prime minister groggy and on the ropes. To the “PartyGate” in progress since last December, the “sexgate” of the last two weeks, inflation and the “cost of living crisis” were added: Between scandals and the economy, the Conservatives lost hundreds of councilors and dozens of municipalities.

The defeat in totemic areas that the Conservatives controlled for more than 40 years, such as Wandsworth, Barnet and Westminster in London or Southampton and West Oxfordshire, was a poisonous drink for councilors and militants. Many came out to demand the resignation of Boris Johnson. One of the toughest was John Mallinson, who lost his position as head of Carlisle Township, in north-west England. “This shows that people no longer trust the prime minister to tell the truth about anything,” Mallinson said of “Partygate,” the more than 100 parties that have taken place at 10 Downing Street during the pandemic.

In the campaign, Johnson refused to announce measures that could have prevented him from wearing out as deep as the “windfall tax” (excessive income tax) on oil companies in the midst of rising energy costs (measures expected at the popular level and demanded by Labor and other opposition parties). “Such a measure would affect the investment we need from the energy industry to offset rising prices,” Johnson justified. In 1997, the extraordinary income tax on oil companies was one of the first measures announced by the new Labor government of Tony Blair, with a collection of five billion pounds for the treasury.

Johnson tried unsuccessfully to revive a housing policy that was popular at the time with Margaret Thatcher – “right to buy” council property – but which ultimately led to speculation, rising house prices and the current housing shortage. properties.

the scandals

Rising cost of living figured high in this Conservative defeatbut what wore the government out the most was the scandalous saga of the “PartyGate” to which, as if it were necessary to top it off with something else, the “sex gate” was added in April.

In the “Party Gate” Johnson fights for survival on several fronts. Scotland Yard selected a total of 12 parties to determine if 10 Downing Street violated the isolation rules it had imposed on the rest of the population. Johnson, his finance minister Rishi Sunak and some 50 officials and advisers were fined.

The prime minister is still under investigation for four more social events that could bring new fines, but also the ethics committee of the House of Commons is debating whether Johnson deliberately lied or misled to parliament when, in the midst of the scandal and on more than one occasion, he told the House of Commons that the rules had not been broken.

Should lawmakers rule that there was deliberate deception, the prime minister should resign. In addition to this remote-controlled missile on his head, once the conclusions of Scotland Yard have been published, the career official who investigated the scandal, Sue Gray, will announce her own conclusions about what happened: the cocktail has explosive ingredients .

The sex seasoning

Turning the municipal campaign into a racy comedy of tangles, a Conservative MP was caught in late April looking at porn in the middle of a parliamentary session. Deputy Neil Parish ended up resigning after days of back and forth on the issue that eroded the government’s deteriorated image with daily headlines.

But also the scandal uncovered a pot of constant misogyny and sexual harassment in the House of Commons. In a few days, complaints of groping, groping and other unwanted advances multiplied, which had, as a positive consequence, the closing of any kind of crack between Conservatives, Labor and other opposition women. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan revealed that a deputy had pressed her against her wall whispering that she wanted him because he was a “powerful man.”

There are some 56 deputies, the vast majority conservatives, who are being investigated by the Ethical Observatory of the Parliament, which supervises respect for the Code of Conduct of legislators. Among them are cases of serial stalkers like Tory David Warburton. Boris Johnson himself ended up thrown into the jumble by a story from the early 1990s. The past often condemns the prime minister who, when he was editor of the conservative magazine “Spectator”, was accused by journalist Charlotte Edwardes of stroking his thighs during a lunch.

In this context, the scandal that caused such a stir in Argentina went unnoticed: the revelation of the pact between bottles of Merlot between former Secretary of the Americas Alan Duncan and Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Foradori. The British media were far more interested in reporting Duncan’s virulent views of the prime minister: “a clown, a total egomaniac, an embarrassing buffoon, an international stain on our reputation.” Hardly anyone cared what happened in the basement of a remote embassy with the deputy foreign minister of a country with which the British got into a war they prefer to forget.

To close the curtain, 54 conservative deputies need to decide to do what they were going to do before the war: express a vote of no confidence in Johnson and activate a fight for party leadership and his position as prime minister. It’s more than possible that Johnson’s cat survival thus far is approaching his last breath.

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Boris Johnson’s government loses support between scandals and crisis | After the setback for the Conservatives in the municipal elections of Great Britain