Breaking: Boris Johnson Resigns As Prime Minister

Boris Johnson Waving
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After probably the worst few days of his political career, Johnson has tendered his resignation as Prime Minister.

The move comes after Johnson was left reeling after the resignations of then Health Minister Sajid Javid, swiftly followed by then Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The floodgates then opened and official after official tendered either their resignation or letters of no confidence in the beleaguered PM with a further 59 resignations in a period of just over a day.

In his resignation speech Johnson stated that his main priority had been to steer the country through Brexit and assist Ukraine (notable these events are two years+ apart) and stated that “herd mentality” had forced his hand but “thems the breaks” (editor note: Not sure he’ll want that to go down in history but it’s better than what’s to follow I guess).

The PM is no stranger to scandal – in fact he’s probably one of the most scandal hit leaders in modern political history. It’s interesting to see that it was the Chris Pincher issue that tipped so many MPs over the edge when any one of the below could have been the final straw.

Here we reflect on Johnson’s tumultuous time in power as he waves goodbye to Downing Street – this certainly isn’t the legacy that he will want to be remembered for:

Proroguing Parliament

Scandal had dogged the Prime Minister’s tenure as leader, a month into the role he prorogued (suspended) parliament. This required agreement from the Queen herself which she duly gave. It turns out that he did this in order to stop key Brexit legislation being scrutinised and it was later found to be “unlawful” by the Supreme Court.

So, not only did Johnson illegally prorogue parliament, he also lied to the Queen in order to get it formalised.

Priti Patel Bullying

Johnson ignored the findings of his Independent Advisor and overruled the outcome that Priti Patel had “intentionally” bullied colleagues and instead stated he found it was “unintentional” meaning she didn’t breach ministerial code and could stay in her role as Home Secretary.

PPE Contacts, Cash For Access, Lobbying And More

Johnson’s government has a history of awarding various contracts to people without going through due diligence or putting  the contracts out to tender. Johnson was also accused of appointing friends such as Zac Goldsmith and Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords under very controversial circumstances.

WallpaperGate

The PM was accused of “begging” for extra cash from donors to finish his No 10. flat refurbishment as he needed rolls of gold wallpaper at £850 a roll. He was found not guilty of breaking parliamentary rules although there were questions about the donor seemingly getting access to Ministers at a later date.

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PartyGate

The PM was found to have breached COVID rules during lockdown and presided over a culture of partying and law breaking as the rest of the country obeyed the rules. 120 fixed penalty notices we issued for breaches of the law in Downing Street and Whitehall.

Johnson had previously denied parties took place, then said that the guidance was followed and following investigations by The Mirror and ITV the Met finally decided to look into the matter.

The Sue Grey report was also pretty damning saying that the culture in place stemmed from the “top”

CarrieGate

While Foreign Minister, it was found that Johnson tried to get then-Mistress Carrie Symonds a £100,000 a year role as his chief of staff while he was still married to his former wife Marina Wheeler.

Johnson and Symonds later married and had two children together.

Senior advisers learned of the plans and were able to put a stop to it, but Johnson managed to cover it up for some time afterwards and it only emerged 6 years later in 2022 when The Times published an article about it which was quickly removed from their online edition following intervention by No. 10 – this of course drew more attention to it and the story flooded Twitter.

By-Election Defeats

Johnson’s government lost several by-elections in an embarrassing series of defeats by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Johnson seemed to refuse to take any accountability in moves that angered back-bench MPs.

Not-So “Oven Ready” Brexit Deal

Going against International Law, the Johnson Government introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that basically tears up the agreed customs and borders rules for Northern Ireland.

This move runs the risk of legal action by the EU which may lead to fines and even trade embargoes.

The Russia Connection

Rumours had been rife for several months that Johnson had been involved in illicit meetings with (former maybe?) KGB agent Alexander Lebedev (if that name sounds familiar, keep reading).

During a Liaison committee meeting on the 6th July Johnson admitted that he had met senior Russian figures without an official escort – a move against rules and protocol.

It’s allegedly there were a few debauched goings on at a castle in Italy – I’ll leave you to Google/YouTube it.

Further to that (ignoring alleged Russian meddling in Brexit and general elections) the Conservative party benefited greatly from Russian benefactors, taking in an estimated £2.3 million (conservative – no pun intended – amount)[1][The Guardian: Party funding linked to Russia – how much have Tories benefited?](https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/feb/23/oligarchs-funding-tories)

COVID Controversy

No, not the fact that Johnson sent COVID-positive patients back into care homes knowing it would run rampant and kill thousands

No, not sending kids back early to schools in unventilated rooms with no PPE.

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No, not even ending the test & trace programme early before the pandemic had even started to wane.

Here we’re talking about Johnson’s claims that he almost died from COVID – something that if was the case would have shaped his pandemic response a lot differently.

It’s emerged recently though several blogs, news outlets and videos that the Prime Minister may not have been as sick as he led the public to believe.

While there is no denying that Johnson had COVID, the severity of his condition has come into question following his apparent rapid “recovery”, statements about treatment and quick return to work.

Some medical information has come to light showing that while he was placed into the Intensive Care Unit, this was primarily due to the fact he was the Prime Minister and that treatment he received (while in ICU) was standard COVID treatment.

Johnson had been accused of using his own COVID experience as an excuse for deflecting from poor Government performance and response overall to the pandemic.

And during his resignation speech he mentioned it again, despite evidence to the contrary.

Dodgy Appointments And Rule Changes

Owen Patterson was found to have broken ministerial code by lobbying for a company he had a second job with. Instead of suspending him Boris Johnson proposed a change to the rules to stop the suspension but had to backtrack after public outcry.

The Prime Minister then went on to change the Ministerial Code in order to prevent offences being an “immediate matter for resignation” and instead offered suspension of pay and temporary suspension of the whip as alternatives to previously sackable offences.

Johnson also appointed Chris Pincher to the position of Deputy Whip despite knowing that he was accused of sexual misconduct. After further allegations emerged, Johnson refused to remove to suspend him and instead waited until a formal complaint was made.

The revelation that Johnson was aware of Pincher’s past started the snowball that lead to the slew of resignations that ultimately ousted Johnson from Office

What Next For The Conservatives?

It will be interesting to see whether Sunak and Javid jumped ship in order to bolster their leadership chances.

It seems highly unlikely that staunch supporters such as Liz Truss will be considered for the top job due to her closeness with the PM.

In an interesting move, Priti Patel was silent for most of the day while the bulk of resignations were happening and then sided with a groups of cabinet members calling for Johnson to resign. Considering she’s be one of his most loyal proponents perhaps she is now distancing herself for a potential leadership bid.

Jeremy Hunt, who has been the favourite to replace Johnson for some time also remained quiet during the unfolding wave of resignations, again maybe signalling that he will stand (as the bookies expect).

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The most interesting turn of events was Michael Gove (a leadership candidate in the 2016 and 2019 elections) told Boris he should now resign[2]Yahoo! News: Boris Johnson told to quit by senior ministers Michael Gove and Chris Heaton-Harris, despite being a seemingly staunch supporter (even though he said Johnson wasn’t fit for the role of PM in 2016 [3]The Guardian: Gove: I did almost everything to avoid Tory leadership bid), this is maybe a signal that he’s ready to stand now that Johnson has left office.

Until the candidates are announced – presumably in the next few days – it’s a case of “watch this space”. When they are announced we’ll let you know and look at each of the candidates to see what their credentials are.

One thing is for sure, the next Prime Minister probably won’t match Boris Johnson for the level of scandal and sleaze that has happened over the last 3 years.

References

References
1 [The Guardian: Party funding linked to Russia – how much have Tories benefited?](https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/feb/23/oligarchs-funding-tories)
2 Yahoo! News: Boris Johnson told to quit by senior ministers Michael Gove and Chris Heaton-Harris
3 The Guardian: Gove: I did almost everything to avoid Tory leadership bid

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