Update, July 7, 2022: UK prime minister Boris Johnson is stepping down.
A slew of scandals have called into question British prime minister Boris Johnson’s judgment and ethics. Two parliamentary by-election losses proved his unpopularity. Now, an avalanche of resignations from various government members has left Johnson struggling for political survival.
Will the prime minister come under enough pressure to resign? Will he be forced out by other means? Or will he find a way to hold onto his job? Here is what we know and some scenarios that could play out.
🗣️ Despite mounting calls for his resignation, Johnson—who became prime minister in 2019 and won a huge 80-seat majority in a subsequent election—insists he has the mandate and the responsibility to remain in power as the country faces a cost of living crisis and a war in Europe.
🗳️ Conservative party members cannot presently hold a vote of no confidence in their leader, since Johnson won one just a month ago, with 211 ballots in support and 148 against. The rules give him immunity for another 11 months.
🔀 Some Tory lawmakers are calling for a rule change, which could happen in a matter of days. A vote of no confidence would trigger party leadership elections. Without a clear frontrunner to replace Johnson, some members might prefer sticking to the devil they know.
🏋️ If recent history is any guide, winning a vote of no confidence is no guarantee of longterm survival. Former prime minister Theresa May won the vote, but was eventually forced out when enough lawmakers rebelled against her leadership.
🌹 The leader of the opposition could call for a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election if passed.
📆 Time is of the essence, since Parliament is scheduled to start summer recess on July 22. Johnson might survive the summer, and perhaps longer, if he can placate his fellow party members. What’s all but certain is that he won’t leave Downing Street of his own will.
🤔 Who would replace Johnson if he was forced out or resigned? Johnson’s resignation opens the floor for a new leadership election in the Conservative party, which currently has no clear frontrunner but might see former and current members of Johnson’s government in the running.