Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Monday, Jun 05, 2023

A lawbreaker who could win again: the case for and against ousting Boris Johnson

A lawbreaker who could win again: the case for and against ousting Boris Johnson

Some of the key arguments being deployed by both sides as spin war begins ahead of no-confidence vote

As Boris Johnson faces a no-confidence vote, the spin war over his future was in overdrive on Monday, with opposing camps setting out their stalls. Rebel Tories circulated a note giving reasons to dump the prime minister. And by Monday morning, the chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, had sent round No 10’s own note on the case to keep Johnson. These are the key arguments being deployed on either side.

Arguments to remove Johnson

* He broke the law
Many Tory MPs believe Johnson’s leadership became untenable the moment he was given a fixed-penalty notice for breaking Covid laws that he created. The idea that lawbreakers cannot be lawmakers is a powerful one. There is also the sense of hypocrisy, given that Johnson stood up at press conferences and urged people to abide by the law to save lives. A cavalier attitude towards the law was also in evidence when he tried to prorogue parliament at the height of the Brexit crisis and more recently threatened to override parts of the internationally binding Northern Ireland protocol.

* Poor leadership
Aside from Johnson’s own transgressions, he presided over a culture of partying in No 10 that was clearly chaotic and out of control. He may not have personally ordered the wine fridge, drunkenly broken his son Wilfred’s swing, or smuggled in suitcases of wine, but his leadership turned a blind eye to this situation at a time when millions of people were suffering in isolation and seeing relatives die alone. Concerns about his leadership also go back to the Owen Paterson affair, when he tried to get the Tory backbencher off the hook over a breach of parliament’s lobbying rules.

* Unpopularity with the public
The most powerful argument among many Tory MPs for getting rid of Johnson is his unpopularity. He may be guilty of all kinds of wrongdoing but leaders are typically safe and backed by their MPs until the tide of public opinion turns decisively against them. This has happened in the case of Johnson, with the Tories consistently trailing Labour in the polls and MPs hearing from their voters that he should go, as trust in his leadership has evaporated. In an ominous sign, the prime minister was booed at the jubilee service for the Queen on Friday, seemingly by a crowd of royal fans.

* Lack of direction and failure to deal with the cost of living
There is general unease among Tory MPs that the government is rudderless and lacking in ideas. Many of its big cost of living interventions – the windfall tax and energy price cap – have been nabbed from Labour.

* Scattergun rightwing policies
In one of the most brutal letters to the prime minister announcing a loss of confidence, the backbencher Jesse Norman mentioned “foolhardy” and possibly illegal plans to disapply the Northern Ireland protocol, the privatisation of Channel 4 and “ugly” plans to send refugees to Rwanda as reasons he could not support Johnson. There are many others who do not back the prime minister’s lurch to the right and fixation on backward-looking issues such as a return to imperial measures.

* The threat of scandals to come
Rebels point to the reports of another yet-uninvestigated birthday party for Johnson during lockdown, and the fear that the Partygate furore is far from over. MPs are still to determine whether he misled parliament over the lockdown-breaking parties. And there is a sense that with the prime minister, the next scandal cannot be far away – whether over his friendship with Lord Lebedev, the furnishing of the No 11 flat or his relationship with the businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.

* Risk of an early general election
MPs in marginal seats fear that Johnson could go to the country with an early general election if they allow him to stay in post. They fear that he will seek another personal mandate from the public, rather than allow MPs to have another go at ousting him.

Arguments to keep Johnson

* Lack of an alternative
One of No 10’s strongest arguments is that there is no clear successor to Johnson. The main names in the frame are Rishi Sunak, whose popularity has taken a dive over his tax affairs, and Liz Truss, who has never enjoyed much in the first place. Jeremy Hunt, who lost to Johnson last time, could make a comeback but as a centrist former remainer, he is not particularly palatable to the party’s pro-Brexit right wing, who have prospered under Johnson.

* Stability at a time of war in Europe
Johnson’s allies are arguing that he has made the right calls on Ukraine and it would be destabilising for the country to lose a prime minister at such an uncertain time. Despite Johnson presiding over a degree of instability in the UK, they argue it is in the country’s best interests to stick with a known quantity.

* He won in 2019 and could win again
The prime minister’s backers believe he is a proven winner, after he took many Labour-dominated seats in the north of England and Midlands, winning an 80-seat majority. They argue that people’s memories are short and that by the time of another election in two years’ time, the national conversation will have moved on from the parties in No 10.

* A new leadership contest will lead to “blue-on-blue civil war”
No 10 is arguing that the Tories choosing another leader midway through a parliament will be seen by the voters as self-indulgent and politicians talking about themselves rather than getting on with governing.

* The prospect of a centrist, pro-remain replacement
Behind closed doors, the whips are pointing to an argument made by Tobias Ellwood, one of Johnson’s critics, that the UK should rejoin the single market. They are arguing that the replacement of Johnson with a more centrist alternative could lead to backsliding on Brexit. Although Ellwood’s position is not shared by many colleagues in the Tory party, it has caused some pro-Brexit waverers to think twice about removing the prime minister, who went into the 2019 election promising to “get Brexit done”.

AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
If you donated to BLM, you got played
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Is Saudi Arabia the holiest place in the world? Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions from "The Mount Sinai Stand" Discovered in Saudi Arabia
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Last Walmart in North Portland Closing Down
Florida's DeSantis seeks to disqualify judge in Disney case
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines calls the British monarchy "an absurdity" he wants to remove in his lifetime
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
US Congresswoman threaten Twitter Files journalist with arrest
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
AG decries scapegoating and rushed lawmaking by government
The land of the free violence
21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira has been arrested for leaking classified Pentagon Documents