British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a trust vote on Monday after a growing number of lawmakers in his Conservative Party questioned the British leader’s authority over what has been dubbed the “partygate” scandal.
Johnson, who scored a sweeping election victory in 2019, has been under growing pressure after he and staff held alcohol-fuelled parties at the heart of power when Britain was under strict lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Underlining the depth of anger, he was met with a chorus of jeers and boos – and some muted cheers – at events to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in recent time.
On Monday, Johnson was also slammed by ally Jesse Norman, a former junior minister who said the 57-year-old prime minister staying in power insulted both the electorate and the party.
“You have presided over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street in relation to COVID,” he remarked, adding the government had “a large majority, but no long-term plan”.
Norman is one of a growing number of Conservative lawmakers to publicly speak that Johnson has lost his authority to govern UK amidst rising prices, the risk of recession and strike-inflicted travel chaos in the capital London.
Jeremy Hunt, a former health minister who ran against Johnson for the leadership in 2019, said the party knew it was failing the country. “Today’s decision is change or lose,” he said. “I will be voting for change.”
Johnson’s anti-corruption chief John Penrose tendered his resignation. “I think it’s over. It feels now like a question of when not if,” he told a local television channel.
A majority of the 359 Conservative lawmakers – at least 180 – would have to vote against Johnson for him to be removed – a level some Conservatives say might be difficult to reach, given the lack of an obvious successor. If passed, there would then be a leadership contest to decide his replacement, which could take several weeks.