An “absolutely defiant” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stared down calls to quit from senior ministers and a mounting rebellion within his ruling Conservative Party, saying he will fight off any attempts to oust him over a series of controversies.
After an extraordinary day that saw 40 resignations from within the government and with many Conservative lawmakers in open revolt, some cabinet ministers went to Downing Street to tell Johnson he needed to go, reported Reuters quoting a source.
Many lawmakers said it was now a question of when, not if, Johnson has to go, after it emerged that he allegedly promoted a lawmaker accused of sexual misconduct, the latest in a two-year-odd tenure marred by scandals.
These are the top developments:
- Despite a growing chorus for him to step aside, Boris Johnson is in a “buoyant” mood and plans to get on with the job as prime minister, a close aide told the media. A Downing Street source told the Guardian that an “absolutely defiant” Johnson intends to “stay and fight”.
People holds placards as they protest against Boris Johnson outside the Houses of Parliament, in London (AP photo)
- Determined to hold on to power, Boris Johnson on Wednesday fired senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove, reportedly told him that it was time for him to quit. Gove had earlier told the prime minister in a face-to-face meeting that he believed his position was unsustainable, given the number of MPs who had turned against him. In the wake of Gove’s sacking, Johnson’s allies reportedly described him as a “snake”.
- According to media reports, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday became the latest senior Cabinet minister to withdraw her support for Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party. A hardcore Boris loyalist till now, Priti Patel is now part of a contingent of ministers with an ultimatum for the embattled prime minister to step down, The Times reported.
- A delegation of some of Johnson’s most trusted allies in the Cabinet paid a visit to the prime minister at 10 Downing Street to urge him to go, but he remained unmoved.
- Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, has reportedly told its leader that the committee’s executive election on Monday “could result in another confidence vote”, which Johnson is likely to lose.
- The attorney general for England and Wales, Suella Braverman, called on Johnson to resign and became the first cabinet minister to say they would run to replace him in any Conservative Party leadership contest.
- Johnson also rejected demands that he step down during a stormy session of the House of Commons amid a furore over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, a senior government official.
- Members of the opposition Labour Party showered Johnson with shouts of “Go! Go!” during the weekly ritual of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. More damningly, members of Johnson’s own Conservative Party — wearied by the many scandals he has faced — also challenged their leader in Parliament.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons in London, Britain (Reuters photo)
CHRIS PINCHER SCANDAL
The latest scandal saw Johnson hit by allegations that he failed to come clean about a lawmaker, Chris Pincher, who was appointed to a senior position despite claims of sexual misconduct surfacing against him in 2019.
On July 1, the UK government claimed that Johnson was unaware of the allegations against Pincher. But a spokesperson later revealed that it was not entirely true and the PM did know about the accusations. On Tuesday, Simon McDonald, the seniormost official at the UK Foreign Office between 2015 and 2020, also accused the Prime Minister of lying.
Soon, Johnson faced pressure to explain what he knew about previous misconduct allegations against lawmaker Chris Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip last week amid complaints that he groped two men at a private club.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid quit the government after Johnson was forced to acknowledge that he changed his story on the way he handled the allegations against Pincher, precipitating the current crisis that has gripped Johnson and the Tory government.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters)
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