Boris totters

Boris Johnson digs in, but the consensus view is that the crisis of his leadership is in its terminal phase.

7:29pm AEST by Adrian Beaumont: Boris Johnson is to resign, but wants to remain caretaker PM until a new Conservative leader is elected this northern autumn.  Will this be acceptable to Conservative MPs, or will they demand he resign immediately with a caretaker PM taking over until the election of a new leader?

Conservative MPs vote in rounds with the lowest polling leadership candidate eliminated each round, until there are just two left.  Those final two go to the right-wing Conservative membership, which votes by mail.  To be certain to make the final round, a candidate needs one-third of the MPs’ vote.  The membership is more right-wing than MPs, so if a right-wing candidate makes the final two, that candidate could win.

William Bowe’s original post

As of very early morning Australian time, the situation in Britain as I understand is that 34 ministers and aides have resigned citing lack of confidence in Boris Johnson as Prime Minister — including two of the most senior cabinet ministers in Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary — and that a delegation of about seven of the 23 cabinet ministers have confronted him to demand his resignation, one of whom is freshly minted chancellor Nadhim Zahawi. At least some of these have told Johnson that they will resign if he doesn’t.

Johnson is nonetheless refusing to go, and the Conservative Party’s governing 1922 committee has decided not to change rules prohibiting two leadership votes within a year, after he narrowly survived one a month ago. A second delegation of members of parliament has also gone to 10 Downing Street to urge him to fight on, which reportedly included Zahawi, determined to have two bob each way. However, elections for a new executive of the 1922 committee will be held next Monday, which could produce a result that will revisit the question of rewriting the party rules, potentially forcing Johnson out.

There have been suggestions that Johnson might seek a way out by calling a snap election, on which he is apparently sending mixed signals. It would seem to me that this would put Her Majesty in a difficult spot, since she ought not grant a dissolution to a Prime Minister who does not hold the confidence of parliament if a new administration can be formed without one. My guess though is that it won’t ultimately come to that.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

128 comments on “Boris totters”

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  1. Matt Dathan
    @matt_dathan
    ·
    Follow
    EXCLUSIVE:

    Priti Patel has sided with the group of Cabinet ministers calling for PM to go

    The home secretary – one of Johnson’s most loyal supporters – believes there’s no way he can continue to govern without the support of his party

    She’s joined Shapps and Gove NOT Dorries
    7:18 PM · Jul 6, 2022

  2. Anushka Asthana
    @AnushkaAsthana

    Exc: told PM absolutely defiant and is not going to resign. Sources tell me he told Cabinet colleagues that it was a choice between summer focused on economic growth or chaos of a leadership contest- followed by massive pressure for general election

    7:37 PM · Jul 6, 2022·Twitter for iPhone

  3. Boris Johnson has told Cabinet ministers he will not quit, arguing it would cause ‘chaos’ and see the Conservatives fall to ‘almost certain’ defeat at the next election

    Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) July 6, 2022
    _________________________________________________________
    At least one more Cabinet minister expected to resign tonight in protest… https://t.co/g7F66YjVsB

    Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) July 6, 2022
    _________________________________________________________
    Boris Johnson has told Cab ministers he is not going anywhere as per @AnushkaAsthana
    He claims govt will be left in freefall for months
    He claims it will increase risk of Lab/SNP coalition with proportional voting leaving Tories locked out of power for decades

    Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) July 6, 2022

  4. There certainly are some splendidly obscure positions in British governments – I would certainly have been unaware of the existence of a position of trade envoy to Angola and Zambia had a Conservative MP not just resigned from it.

  5. Gove sacked for disloyalty, No 10 sources claim .. This is from Chris Mason, the BBC’s political editor, quoting a No 10 source explaning why Michael Gove was sacked

    (Grauniad)

  6. +1? Secretary of State for Wales resigns.

    “A total of 42 people have resigned from the government as things stand since Sajid Javid set the ball rolling at 18:02 yesterday by resigning as health secretary.”

  7. Ray (UK)

    Interesting times over there? Comments yesterday reminded me of my many times in Yorkshire consuming mushy peas and chip butties, I loved them all.

  8. I’m very surprised by Priti Patel’s decision, things must be really bad as she seems like a dedicated Johnson loyalist.

  9. Ray (UK) says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 5:20 am
    “Boris Johnson has told Cabinet ministers he will not quit, arguing it would cause ‘chaos’ and see the Conservatives fall to ‘almost certain’ defeat at the next election”

    Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) July 6, 2022

    Shameless individuals like Johnson don’t jump, they need to be pushed. I’ve some news for Boris, if he’s still PM by the eve of next election he’ll be running an autocracy because popular support even within the Tories appears to be long gone.

  10. “In the wake of Michael Gove’s sacking, Boris Johnson’s allies reportedly described him as a “snake”.”

    Gove or Johnson?

  11. wonder when trus will go probaly between trus and sunack to succed johnson even though tories falling apart uk labor only ahead by 2 points maybi they need a stronger leader then Starmer

  12. Briant was strong questioning him moore convince then strmer maybi him or nandey bernam is now mayor for tories maybi sunack or trus

  13. Ray (UK) says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 7:47 am
    Cronus @ #9 Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 – 10:40 pm

    Ray (UK)

    Interesting times over there? Comments yesterday reminded me of my many times in Yorkshire consuming mushy peas and chip butties, I loved them all.
    “Tell me more Mester

    Rotherham, South Yorkshire is my stamping ground.”

    Married to a Halifax girl for 20 yrs back in the 80s-90s. Spent lots of time around that locale, just loved it and was sorry to see all the mills replaced by modernisation on my last visit almost 20 yrs ago. Some places a person feels a natural affinity with and for me, Yorkshire was one of those few places. Loved the pubs and moors. Let’s hope Johnson hasn’t destroyed it beyond repair though I fear that boat may have sailed. I saw Thatcher do her worst and that alone was saddening. I also spent a goodly amount of time down in Leicester which I thoroughly enjoyed, very cosmopolitan.

  14. Election Maps UK
    @ElectionMapsUK

    It is now mathematically impossible for Boris Johnson to win a confidence vote assuming all those who had no confidence last month still do

    I’m assuming the logic here is that all those resigning from ‘the payroll’ today voted Confidence last time

  15. BREAKING Attorney General and staunch Brexiteer @SuellaBraverman becomes first Cabinet minister to say she wants to replace Boris Johnson, as she calls for the PM to resign

  16. Aaron newton says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 8:13 am

    ….uk labor only ahead by 2 points maybi they need a stronger leader then Starmer
    _______________

    All the recent polls I’ve seen put Labor at over 7% ahead – plus some Tory voters have switched to the Lib Dems. If an election was held today Labor would win pretty easily. The Tories wouldn’t have enough seats, even in coalition with another party.

    https://www.politico.eu/europe-poll-of-polls/united-kingdom/

  17. Attorney general joins calls for Johnson to resign
    Suella Braverman, the attorney general, says there is an overwhelming sense of despair among Conservative MPs and “the time has come for the PM to step down”.
    She told the Peston programme on ITV it is “untenable” for him to continue as leader.

    Braverman added she would not be resigning because of her duty to her role but acknowledged that Johnson might sack her and if there’s a leadership contest “I will put my hat in the ring”.

  18. Cronussays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 7:46 am
    Ray (UK) says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 5:20 am
    “Boris Johnson has told Cabinet ministers he will not quit, arguing it would cause ‘chaos’ and see the Conservatives fall to ‘almost certain’ defeat at the next election”

    Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) July 6, 2022

    Shameless individuals like Johnson don’t jump, they need to be pushed. I’ve some news for Boris, if he’s still PM by the eve of next election he’ll be running an autocracy because popular support even within the Tories appears to be long gone.

    IMO, BOJO can never be worse than Trump although he was called mini-Trump. US Republicans are in their own class when it is comes to lying, shamelessness, subverting Constitution and behaving in autocratic way.
    BOJO may be bad or worse but he cannot be evil like some Repugs.

    IMO, BOJO cannot be worse than Morrison or Abbott.

    I cannot imagine Britain becoming a autocratic or fascist country which I fear about 800lb Gorilla because of the superior Parliamentary system Britain has when compared to US Parliamentary system.

  19. “As of very early morning Australian time, the situation in Britain as I understand is that 34 ministers and aides have resigned citing lack of confidence in Boris Johnson as Prime Minister …..

    Johnson is nonetheless refusing to go”

    Being abandoned by at the most 34 MPs (most likely less, if we discount the aides), is not a huge problem for Johnson, as the Tories have an 80 seat advantage in the lower house. Hence Johnson is staying calm in the hope of escaping the storm… yet again. Ultimately, he will be replaced only when an acceptable alternative surfaces… Who is that alternative leader right now?

  20. Ven

    I consider Bojo to be worse than Morrison but slightly better than Trump (now that is a very low bar in the democratic world).

    Bojo in particular, as a populist, replicated many of Trumps narcissistic tendencies with no thoughts as to Britain’s betterment, it was all about Bojo.

    The comment re autocracy was a joking reference to Bojo being the last man standing.

  21. The people of the UK deserve a full term of Boris Johnson…. and the prolonged consequences. Whilst I feel for those who didnt vote for him (and yes, there are a lot of them!) the rest have no excuses. He was no mystery. Voting is a right and a responsibility so if you vote for an incompetent knob because he shares and panders to your petty cultural piques then you get what you deserve. Governing requires a wide range of honourable skills and behaviours; it was clear before he got elected that this chap had none of those.


  22. Cronussays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 9:17 am
    Ven

    I consider Bojo to be worse than Morrison but slightly better than Trump (now that is a very low bar in the democratic world).

    Bojo in particular, as a populist, replicated many of Trumps narcissistic tendencies with no thoughts as to Britain’s betterment, it was all about Bojo.

    The comment re autocracy was a joking reference to Bojo being the last man standing.

    Cronus
    Below is the post by Socrates from regular thread. It is a small sample of the harm that LNP governments of last 9 years done and don’t you think that is worse than what happened in Britain in last 12 years of Tory governments, then I don’t know what to say.

    Socratessays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 9:19 am
    ………….
    ………..
    The cessation of Treasury modelling the cost of climate change is one of many technical areas of analysis that stopped under the Liberals. Remember the entire climate change department was abolished under Abbott. Many in the CSIRO also lost their job when funding was cut and the Liberals appointed their own shills in charge. How many people have homes on land that is now flood prone? We don’t really know.

    Even in my own area (transport) analysis has dropped to feeble levels. After all, you don’t need rigorous modelling to know you should spend $10 billion on a freight rail line through National Party electorates in country NSW. Barnaby can advise you.

    Many areas of external research were also cut. Remember the VW-gate emissions cheating scandal? We don’t do on-road or lab-testing of vehicle emissions in Australia. They simply take the manufacturer’s word for the car emissions, and report their figures. Same with fuel consumption figures, which are often wrong by as much as 25%.

    There is a lot of work to do to turn Australia around from the third world country we were sliding into under the LNP.

  23. Ven

    Mostly I agree and I think Morrison was very bad but in the context of Brexit in particular, I think Bojo was even worse. I think with a good ALP government Australia can recover but I think the UK is probably too far gone. Trump of course is unmatched in his permanent damage of the USA.

  24. Sorry I missed posting about the UK situation. It developed so rapidly.

    Snappy Tom, there’s no chance of a parliamentary no-confidence motion succeeding. The Tories who resigned are expressing no-confidence in Johnson, not in their own party. Once they are able to push out Johnson and elect a new leader, they’ll be happy.

    Once Johnson resigns or loses a Tory party no-confidence vote, all Tory MPs vote in rounds to reduce the Tory leadership candidates to a final two. Those two go to the right-wing Tory membership. Until a new leader is elected, Johnson will remain a caretaker PM – but will he be a good caretaker?

  25. I do hope when boris is dumped the media calls the new regime “the great reset” just to blow the RWNJ’s minds.

    UK politics is now starting to turn into Australian politics where MP’s believe changing the Prime Ministership can be the great escape. The only way the public will put a stop to this is by not rewarding this behaviour at the ballot box. The term disunity is death sadly isn’t that relevant these days.

    I’m not defending Boris Johnson because from his conduct he should probably go. But it does seem the Tory’s have been able to run under for cover for while chopping and changing Prime Minsters. The Murdoch media will likely put their best spin on it over there as they have done over here. If if it was Labour then that’s a different story.

    Its also worth remembering the Tory’s are only interested in changing the Prime Minster because of the polls not because of Johnson’s conduct. They certainly were not pushing for his removal when Downing Street lockdown scandal first happened. And the view was they would wait and see if Johnson could weather the storm.

  26. Prince Andrew has been craving for a new responsibility.
    Could Queen Elizabeth by decree parachute him in as Tory caretaker PM?
    And he doesn’t sweat unlike Boris.

  27. I consider Bojo to be worse than Morrison but slightly better than Trump (now that is a very low bar in the democratic world).

    He’s done pretty well on Ukraine. But that’s about it. Verdict’s out though on whether he really cares or is just doing what benefits him politically.

    And he helped pave the way for the situation in Ukraine with his support for Brexit. A weakened EU was a gift to Putin.

  28. Boho might end up needing to ask the DUP to prop him up! Oh, one can dream.

    Seriously though, if the 1922 committee refuses to change the rules, this chaos seems likely to drag on for a while yet.

  29. Boris’ position looks terminal, though we probably need to accept that we now live in a time when politicians are increasingly shameless. Time was, not so long ago, when leaders would resign even if there was a perception of wrong-doing, and certainly in circumstances when multiple cabinet ministers resign – but those days now seem gone, and the general approach these days is to dig in until blasted out (Jeremy Corbyn took a similar approach when Labour leader some years ago). So if the Conservative Party want BoJo gone, they will have to do the dirty work themselves, and such are the convoluted rules of the Party, Johnson is likely to remain PM for a while yet.

    Johnson’s strongest protection, in the short term at least, is the time of year. Britain is heading into their summer season, so if Boris can hold on for the next couple of weeks, he’s likely safe until September.

  30. I am bit disappointed that nobody has resigned in the last few hours. I wonder how many will come during the morning shows on British TV?

    So far the Count is 4 cabinet ministers (Gove was sacked and not resigned however) and 16 junior ministers.

    PPS really don’t matter too much as there are about 50 of them and positions are unpaid as well – it is sort of like a ministry internship – they get briefings from the ministry, write letters but have no real power.

  31. Apparently the committee positions in the 1922 committee are due to change at the end of next week and all the newbies are anti-Borisites. The existing committee members are a mix but the Anti-Boris members might have the numbers to change the rules anyway.
    A section has already approached BoJo to tell him this and that he should do the honourable thing but nothing about the man says “honourable”.


  32. Matt31says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 11:29 am
    Boho might end up needing to ask the DUP to prop him up! Oh, one can dream.

    Seriously though, if the 1922 committee refuses to change the rules, this chaos seems likely to drag on for a while yet.

    I read somewhere that 1922 committee office bearers election is on next Monday. After the election they can change the rules with new team.

  33. The DUP didn’t achieve all that much when they had the balance of power (admittedly under May the whip was most notable for its breaches, which makes BOP irrelevant). I don’t think they will be big players here even though Boris is abrogating the Brexit treaty


  34. BTsays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 6:06 am
    There certainly are some splendidly obscure positions in British governments – I would certainly have been unaware of the existence of a position of trade envoy to Angola and Zambia had a Conservative MP not just resigned from it.

    Sir Ian Botham is trade envoy to Australia. Last week I think I saw him being interviewed on ABC Breakfast show.
    After Albanese’s frank discussion with BOJO on plane to Japan, I don’t know whether PM or any of his Ministers or any State Premier or any of their Ministers had any trade discussion with Sir Ian. 🙂

    Wasn’t Tony Abbott some sort of envoy to Britain for Australian government when Morrison was PM. I wonder what happened to that position now.
    Any idea anyone?


  35. Oakeshott Countrysays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 3:40 pm
    The DUP didn’t achieve all that much when they had the balance of power (admittedly under May the whip was most notable for its breaches, which makes BOP irrelevant). I don’t think they will be big players here even though Boris is abrogating the Brexit treaty

    The Tories have very big majority in House of Reps. So why should BOJO care about DUP at all?

  36. Vensays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 3:45 pm
    “Wasn’t Tony Abbott some sort of envoy to Britain for Australian government when Morrison was PM. I wonder what happened to that position now.
    Any idea anyone?”

    It was the other way around. Abbott was made an (honorary) adviser to the British Board of Trade on negotiating agreements with other countries. That was before the UK concluded its free trade agreement with Australia. AFAIK the position hasn’t ended. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-54027762

  37. So at the crack of dawn in UK, there has been another cabinet minister go (Northern Ireland Sec) and another 2 junior ministers. So that makes 5 cabinet members out of 20. They are dropping like flies.

    Some are not resigning because of the chaos in there portfolios if they do. The Home Sec (Patel) has told people in the media she can’t because some actually needs to be in charge of her portfolio (Police, emergency services etc).

  38. Another yet another one. Science minister has quit. That brings it to 50 resignations so far.

    Why do they even bother writing a full letter? They should just go with “Dear Boris, I quit and you know why. Hurry up and quit.”

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