In these minutes and hours, Boris Johnson is concerned with his political fate. The Prime Minister, who has been in office since the summer of 2019, will intensively ensnare members of his Tory group in confidential talks so that they can express their confidence in him on Monday evening.
On Sunday, the United Kingdom was still in jubilee euphoria on the occasion of the Queen’s 70th birthday celebrations. The morning of the new week had barely dawned when reality caught up with the prime minister. How could the mood seem to change so quickly?
The boos that Johnson received during his performances at the weekend’s royal events were seen by many as a sure signal that the mood was changing. Presumably, the chairman of the “1922 Committee”, the internal Tory parliamentary group, had already received the quorum of 15 percent required for the vote before the holidays, but withheld the announcement of a vote.
Johnson has become a liability for his Tories. Important by-elections are due at the end of June – precisely in a district that Johnson historically tricked Labor into in his overwhelming election victory in December 2019. In which he will lose predictably and with a bang this time.
This is just one example of the dissatisfaction that more and more of his “new” constituents are feeling towards the charismatic prime minister. In 2019, they had put their faith in him, believing that thanks to Johnson’s energy and euphoria, they could put the grueling Brexit period behind them and the nation on a new path.
The pandemic hit the country hard. Although Johnson initially made serious mistakes and his hesitancy to lock down cost thousands of lives, he made the right decisions afterwards. The vaccination campaign was successful, and the early lifting of the restrictions also proved to be a good thing.
Nevertheless, Johnson’s poll numbers are in the basement. “Instead of sensible planning, there is only empty rhetoric,” as the previously loyal Tory and influential ex-minister Jesse Norman explained his motion of no confidence on Monday morning.
In fact, the prime minister can’t get out of campaign mode. Every week there is a new, slogan-laden suggestion. Sometimes it is asylum seekers who are flown to Rwanda. Sometimes it is the confrontation with the EU. Then it’s the reintroduction of imperial units of measure.
What citizens really want is substantive policies that make life sustainably better, especially outside of wealthy London. There is no sign of that, despite the much-vaunted “Brexit dividend”.
And yet, on Monday night, Johnson could again emerge as the winner of the vote. His cabinet is rallying around him because an internal party struggle over his successor is “divisive and damaging” for the Tories and the country, his supporters said ahead of the vote.
With a vote of confidence, “we can put the distractions of the past few months behind us.” Johnson is a safe driving force for the next election, which is due in 2024.
These arguments may suffice for today. But “Partygate,” which for many is synonymous with the prime minister’s lack of integrity, is not going away. Especially since further investigations are pending. Above all, the economic situation for the British is likely to get worse.
It all explains why Jeremy Hunt, Johnson’s opponent in the 2019 contest bid, threw his hat into the race on Monday noon with barely any clutter. He is convinced that life after Johnson will soon begin.