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. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis gone. There had been speculation about this last night UK time. Excelent news. It will be interesting to see who replaces him. Either way, whatever happens to Boris Johnson, hopefully he will not return to that position and be replaced by someone who will take a harder line with the ROI and the EU. If Boris Johnson goes, this naturally will depend on what position the new leader takes on the protocol. At this stage, if there is to be a change, I am hoping for Liz Truss.

  2. LOL.

    As per Guardian
    Chris Philp resigns as tech minister, stressing importance of ‘integrity, honesty and trust’ in politcs
    Chris Philp has resigned as minister for tech. In his resignation letter, he says he cannot serve under Boris Johnson any longer because of the importance of “integrity, honesty and trust” in politics. 🙂

  3. Nadhim Zahawi who only got the chancellor job yesterday has now called for Boris to resign.
    Boris should sack him as well. Burn the village to save it.

  4. Unbelievable! Why? Because the government functioned for almost 3 years with him in-charge.

    “Guy Opperman has resigned as pensions minister. In his resignation letter, he tells Boris Johnson “the government simply cannot function with you in charge”.”

  5. The Secretary of state for Education has quit. She was only appointed on Tuesday night and therefore has become the shortest Cabinet minister in British history.

  6. James Cartlidge resigns as courts minister, saying it is now ‘no longer remotely possible’ for PM to recover
    James Cartlidge has resigned as courts minister. In his resignation letter he says it is now “no longer even remotely possible” for Boris Johnson to “change and reset”.

  7. B.S. Fairman says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 5:57 pm
    “The Secretary of state for Education has quit. She was only appointed on Tuesday night and therefore has become the shortest Cabinet minister in British history.”

    You couldn’t make this up. Last one out turn off the lights (It’ll likely be Boris).

  8. I think the Downing St cat is looking good for a ministry at the moment, just behind Carrie Johnson. Was this all part of Nigel Farage’s plans?

  9. Cronus at 5.59 re Guardian comments going off…

    I liked this one: “The government have effectively gone on strike. Take that Mick Lynch!”

    [Lynch being head of rail union leading recent strike.]

  10. Cronus

    A cat woukd never serve under Boris. A cat would be PM.
    Funny how all these resigning ministers value integrity. Years too late.
    Bit like the local Liberals who said they knew Morrison was hopeless after the election.

  11. He’s going!

    Latest on Guardian…

    “Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, but wants to stay on as PM until new Tory leader elected by autumn

    Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports. He says he wants a new Tory leader to be in place by the party conference. He wants to stay on as PM until then.”

  12. I think they need a clean break and I doubt that a wait of three more months is what much of the ministry who have quit wants. I can’t see it being workable.

  13. 18.09
    Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, but wants to stay on as PM until new Tory leader elected by autumn
    Boris Johnson has agreed to resign, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports. He says he wants a new Tory leader to be in place by the party conference. He wants to stay on as PM until then.

  14. Sprocket – There are 650 members of the Commons. So about 1 in 6

    We have about 30 out of 226 (MPs and senators).

  15. >https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jul/07/anti-green-mp-steve-baker-considering-running-for-pm-if-boris-johnson-goes

    >Apparently the Cons Leadership race starts right now. This guy denies climate change – surely picking him guarantees defeat at next election? Or is the British electorate that stupid? Oh, wait, Brexit!

    The Tories seem to have got into their heads that ANYBODY can have a shot at the leadership whenever its up for grabs, so there will be some absurd number of candidates over the next few days as everybody goes ‘look at me!’. (There were 10 nominated in 2019 and a few more had to be politely discouraged.) Baker is unlikely to be serious candidate.

    You can read up about the last spill here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Conservative_Party_leadership_election

  16. George Canning holds the ultimate record for the shortest UK prime minister. He died in office after only 118 days. His successor (Viscount Goderich) holds the record for the second shortest stint lasting only 144 days and he didn’t die in office either.

  17. 7m ago
    09.58
    Buckingham Palace declined to comment on whether the Queen has had any communication with Boris Johnson on Thursday morning, PA Media reports. The Queen is at Windsor Castle and the Court Circular recorded that she held her weekly audience by telephone with Johnson on Wednesday evening.

  18. Leadership contenders do need the backing of at least 8 MPs, so that will limit the number of contenders to at most 39!


  19. sprocket_says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 6:37 pm
    Yes, but only 427 MPs can actually be seated in the Commons chamber

    Did you see how they sit? Shoulder to shoulder with no gap in-between.
    Today I even saw MPs standing behind BOJO.

  20. Well that escalated quickly! Now we see that weird British thing where a broken Prime Minister hangs around swinging in the breeze for a few months while the party sorts out the leadership. Luckily for the UK that no PM has died in office since Palmerston in 1865. It would create quite the power vacuum if it happened now.


  21. sprocket_says:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 6:40 pm
    BoJo has lasted longer than his abilities warranted..

    Shortest serving PMs

    But BOJO lasted longer than Gordon Brown and Neville Chamberlain.
    Once Gordon Brown is gone, the decline of British Labour began in Scotland and continues….


  22. Hugoaugogosays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 7:22 pm
    Well that escalated quickly! Now we see that weird British thing where a broken Prime Minister hangs around swinging in the breeze for a few months while the party sorts out the leadership. Luckily for the UK that no PM has died in office since Palmerston in 1865. It would create quite the power vacuum if it happened now.

    Is there no fallback option available when caretaker PM dies?
    Like making Prince Charles or Andrew PM till a new PM is selected.

  23. Presumably there is some sort of classically British fudge, but there is often no formal deputy in the UK system, so there’s no obvious way. As it is, Johnson will be a complete lame duck leader for his remaining time in office, unable to do anything of policy substance, while still being in a position to exploit his position for personal gain.

  24. If the PM died, the queen would simply appoint a new PM.

    If the Tories all backed a name, she would pick that name. Otherwise she would just pick the most senior (chancellor of the exchequer?)

  25. 7m ago
    09.58
    Buckingham Palace declined to comment on whether the Queen has had any communication with Boris Johnson on Thursday morning, PA Media reports. The Queen is at Windsor Castle and the Court Circular recorded that she held her weekly audience by telephone with Sir Anthony Abbott on Wednesday evening, after Sir Anthony had mowed the lawn at Windsor Castle.

  26. If Boris Johnson were to be incapacitated, the Acting PM would be the First Secretary of State (or colloquially Deputy Prime Minister), currently Dominic Raab, as he did at one point when Boris had covid. Raab was most recently notable for as Foreign Secretary continuing to holiday in Greece while the UK was being ignomiously run out of Kabul, so he’s not much talked of for Prime Minister.

  27. Bojo has got to be one of the worst leaders in British history. It seems as though nearly his whole time as PM was more a drawn out resignation rather that a form of leadership…


  28. Tomsays:
    Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 9:40 pm
    Bojo has got to be one of the worst leaders in British history. It seems as though nearly his whole time as PM was more a drawn out resignation rather that a form of leadership…

    When you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

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