Boris Johnson stands firm and fires the cabinet minister after mass resignations strike scandal-plagued government

LONDON -- After his government was shaken by the resignations of ministers, Boris Johnson, a determined prime minister, fired Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.

07 July 2022 Thursday 16:20
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Boris Johnson stands firm and fires the cabinet minister after mass resignations strike scandal-plagued government

LONDON -- After his government was shaken by the resignations of ministers, Boris Johnson, a determined prime minister, fired Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.

Months of discontent about Johnson's judgement and ethics in his Conservative Party led to the resignations on Tuesday night of Treasury chief Rishi Javid and Health Secretary Sajid Javi.

Wednesday's scathing speech to Parliament by Javid stated that he concluded that the problem begins at the top, and that it is not going away.

"This week, we have cause to question the integrity and truth of everything we've been told. Javid added that we must eventually conclude enough is enough. "I believe that this point is now."

Johnson was confronted with a difficult Prime Minister's Question, a rowdy weekly session in which parliamentarians question the premier about a variety of issues. Johnson made his comments after Johnson had faced these questions.

Johnson was asked repeatedly if he would resign, but he said that "the job as prime minister in difficult circumstances when given a colossal mandate to continue is to keep going."

While the session was being held, Johnson's Environment Minister Jo Churchill released letters to Stuart Andrew, the Housing Minister, announcing their resignation from the Cabinet.

Johnson also fired Gove Wednesday, which was a shocking sign that he is refusing to resign from his job. Gove's dismissal added drama to an already chaotic day in Westminster.

Simon Hart wrote a resignation letter to Secretary of State for Wales within an hour of Gove's firing being reported. He posted it to his Twitter account.

Hart wrote that he was not a fan of ministerial resignations as the best way to force change. "Colleagues have done everything they could to help you turn the ship around in private and public, but it is with sadness I feel that we have reached the point where this is possible."

Since Tuesday evening, 38 MPs have resigned from the Government. The string of resignations by both the right-wing and liberal branches of the Conservative Party has shown that Johnson's danger was not over.

Sunak and Javid were finally irritated by the shifting explanations of the prime minister about his handling sexual misconduct allegations against Conservative members.

Last week, Chris Pincher, Conservative deputy chief whip, resigned amid allegations that he had groped 2 men at a private club. This triggered a series if reports on past allegations against Pincher, as well as questions about Johnson's promotion to a top job in enforcing party discipline.

Johnson's office initially denied that he knew of the allegations when Pincher was promoted in February. Johnson's office initially denied knowing of the allegations, but a spokesperson said Monday that Johnson knew of them.

Johnson was allegedly briefed by a former top foreign office civil servant about Pincher's allegations in 2019. Johnson's office refuted the claim, saying that Pincher had been the subject of an official complaint.

Ministers were sent on radio and television to defend the government's position only to find that the situation was changing every hour.

Johnson has had to make public U-turns after a string of embarrassing incidents like the Pincher incident.

After a government report revealed that Johnson had acted "unwisely", he was accused of being unwise when he paid a Conservative Party donor an invoice for redecoration costs at his Downing Street home.

He has been also fined by police in the last few months and hit with an investigator's report on lockdown-breaching government officials during the Covid pandemic. Lord Christopher Geidt, an ethics advisor, quit in June after admitting that Johnson may have broken ministerial rules during the "Partygate" scandal.

Johnson was able to survive a vote of no confidence by his party, in which 41% Conservative lawmakers voted for him to be thrown out.

Johnson's current troubles are a fall from grace. Johnson led the Conservatives in a historic win at the general election in December 2019. This victory enabled them to secure the largest parliamentary majority since Margaret Thatcher 1987.

The Conservatives won 365 seats, a majority of 80, against 203 for Labour Party.

Through it all, he has promised to continue governing -- suggesting last Wednesday that he would like to remain in office until 2030.

The British prime ministers are elected to lead their party, and not by the voters. Johnson, therefore, needs to be supported by fellow members of the Conservative Party in order to remain at power.

The 1922 Committee, a group of parliamentarians that are not ministers or ministerial assistants, will be crucial to his leadership ambitions.

They are sometimes called "the men wearing grey suits", although the current executive committee includes 18 members. Their job is to represent the views and opinions of the party leader to those in parliament.

Current rules require that the leader faces a confidence vote if 15 percent of the members write to the chairman asking for one.

They also stated that leaders cannot be held accountable for 12 months if they are able to survive one. Johnson was challenged on June 6.

To decide on a rule change, the 1922 Committee could meet as soon as Monday.

Starmer, the Labour leader, could also ask for Johnson's confidence vote.

Their decisions will determine his future.

Some MPs are talking about lowering the threshold from 12 to 6 months, which could lead to a vote in December.

Others want Johnson's future resolved before the Commons recess.



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