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July 05, 2022

Boris Johnson May be On His Way Out as Two Of His Top Ministers Resign

Two senior ministers have resigned and there is wide speculation that conservatives will demand that Boris Johnson resign.

Although Boris Johnson has been unpopular for a while -- he's been caught several times in "Partygate" violations of his own lockdown orders -- the resignations were sparked by his apparent dishonesty in the matter of Chris Pincher. Pincher had been accused of some kind of sexual impropriety, and an investigation had found the allegations to have been substantiated. Nevertheless, Johnson promoted him to the Conservative Party's deputy chief whip.

When asked if he had known about the allegations against Pincher, Johnson said he had not:

Downing Street had previously said Mr Johnson was not aware of any specific allegations against Mr Pincher when, in February, he appointed him deputy chief whip - a role in which he was responsible for enforcing discipline among Conservative MPs.

On Monday, the children's minister Will Quince said he had received "a categorical assurance that the prime minister was not aware of any specific allegation or complaint made against the former deputy chief whip".

But now it is alleged -- or admitted? It's not clear to me -- that Johnson did know.

No 10 did not tell the truth when it said the PM was unaware of formal complaints about Chris Pincher's behaviour, the former top civil servant in the Foreign Office has said.

Simon McDonald said the PM had been briefed about an inquiry on Mr Pincher, then a Foreign Office minister.

Minister Michael Ellis confirmed Mr Johnson had been made aware of the complaint about Mr Pincher.

But he said the PM "did not immediately recall the conversation".

"As soon as he was reminded, the No 10 press office corrected their public lines," he added.

Two senior cabinet officials have resigned.

Two of the U.K.'s top Cabinet ministers resigned in quick succession Tuesday in protest of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's handling of misconduct allegations against a Conservative Party lawmaker.

Why it matters: Johnson's premiership is on the brink of collapse. He survived a no-confidence vote last month over lockdown-breaking parties that have severely damaged his popularity, but will now face new pressure to resign.

Driving the news: In the latest scandal to rock the British government, Johnson's spokesperson admitted Tuesday that the prime minister had been made aware of a sexual misconduct complaint against Conservative MP Chris Pincher in 2019 -- but then "forgot" about it.

Pincher was promoted to deputy chief whip under Johnson's government in February, before dramatically resigning over the weekend over allegations he groped two men at a club.

Pincher said he had "embarrassed himself" after drinking too much and is now seeking professional support.

Johnson said Tuesday he "bitterly" regretted the decision not to act on the complaint against Pincher, and that elevating him to a top position "was the wrong thing to do."

What they're saying: Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who resigned as Johnson's Chancellor of the Exchequer once before in 2020, wrote Tuesday that last month's no-confidence vote should have been a "moment for humility, grip and new direction."

"I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership - and you have therefore lost my confidence too," Javid wrote.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was once seen as the likeliest successor to Johnson before seeing his own popularity plunge during the "Partygate" scandal, wrote in his resignation letter that the "public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously."

"I [recognize] this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning," Sunak wrote.

Although the left is of course attacking Johnson over his "forgetting" that he had been informed of Pincher's problems, conservatives are attacking him as well.

Senior Conservative MPs have asked ministers how long they can continue to tolerate government dishonesty after the Chris Pincher row.

Boris Johnson's former anti-corruption tsar John Penrose suggested it was time to say "enough is enough".

And select committee chairman William Wragg urged ministers with a "sense of decency" to resign.

Mr Pincher has been suspended as a Conservative MP over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Tamworth MP says he is seeking professional medical support and has denied misconduct. He has been contacted by the BBC for comment.

A government source has told the BBC morale in government is "low", and the mood in cabinet is "changing".

Below, a former conservative MP says it's time for the deputy PM to tell Johnson it's time to go. He says the likely reason this isn't happening is that there's no plausible conservative successor to Johnson.

Note that Johnson's eviction would not mean that the left gets control of the government; the Conservatives still dominate the Parliament. The Conservatives would elect a new Conservative government, led by someone else.

The Deputy PM, Dominic Raab, remains loyal to Johnson and does not seem ready to tell him "It's time to go." He's splitting hairs over whether an investigation found Pincher "guilty" or merely "substantiated" allegations against him.

Thanks to Mark1971 for alerting me to this.

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posted by Ace at 03:17 PM

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