© Reuters. PHOTOGRAPHY: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a weekly debate on Question Time in Parliament in London, Britain, on January 5, 2022, in this screenshot taken from the video. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Authors William James and Alistair Smout
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday rejected calls from opponents and some of his lawmakers to resign, fighting to save his prime ministerial post amid growing revolts within his party over a series of closed parties in Downing Street.
Johnson, who won the largest majority in his party in more than 30 years in 2019, is now struggling to strengthen his authority following a series of revelations about parties at his Downing Street residence during the COVID quarantine.
Johnson has repeatedly apologized for the parties and said he is not familiar with many of them.
However, he attended, he said, a work event on May 20, 2020, at which staff were told to “bring their drink”. Johnson said Tuesday that no one had told him the rally was against COVID rules.
“I expect my leaders to take responsibility for the actions they take,” Brexit-backed Conservative MP David Davis told parliament.
Davis quoted Conservative MP Leo Amery as quoting then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain about his 1940 war: “You sat too long for the good you did. For God’s sake, go.”
Asked directly by an opposition lawmaker if he would resign, Johnson said “No.”
Demolishing Johnson would leave the UK in limbo for months as the West grapples with Ukraine’s crisis and the world’s fifth-largest economy struggles with an inflationary wave triggered by the COVID pandemic, with inflation in the UK rising to almost the highest level. 30 years.
To challenge the leadership challenge, 54 of the 360 conservative MPs have to write letters of no confidence to the 1922 party committee chairman.
At the request of one fan to stay, Johnson said he had not yet “sat here long enough, in fact nothing like it.”
As many as 20 Conservative MPs who won their seats in the last national election in 2019 plan to file no-confidence letters to Johnson, the Telegraph reported. Several others have already said that they wrote such letters.
An analysis by The Times found that 58 conservative lawmakers openly criticized the prime minister.
Leading rivals within the Conservative Party include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, 41, and Foreign Minister Liz Truss, 46.
‘PORK PIE REVOLT’
The closing parties for Downing Street – some held when ordinary people could not personally say goodbye to dying relatives – undermined Johnson’s authority.
Johnson on Tuesday denied accusations by his former adviser that he lied to parliament about the party in isolation, saying no one had warned him that the “bring your own drink” rally could be contrary to COVID-19 rules.
“As he stepped through the empty bottles and trays of sandwiches – he didn’t realize it was fun? Does the Prime Minister realize how ridiculous that sounds?” Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, told parliament.
“Every week the prime minister offers absurd and frankly unbelievable defenses to the parties on Downing Street, and every week it unfolds.”
Starmer, who welcomed the defection of MP Christian Wakeford, who left Johnson’s Conservatives earlier Wednesday and joined Labor, asked Johnson if the prime minister should resign if he seduced parliament.
“My decision relates much more than your leadership and the shameful way you have behaved in recent weeks,” Wakeford said.
“I can no longer support a government that consistently shows that it is not in contact with the diligent people of Bury South and the country as a whole.”
TURKEYS IN KEY
Support for Johnson and his party plummeted after a series of revelations about the parties and other missteps.
His former spokeswoman resigned after she was filmed laughing and joking with a camera about how to organize a Christmas party if reporters ask about it.
There was such merriment in Downing Street at one event that staff went to the supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, spilled wine on carpets and smashed a swing used by the prime minister’s young son.
The Mirror said staff bought a wine cooler for gatherings on Friday, events Johnson regularly watched as he walked to his apartment in the building.
Johnson gave a variety of explanations to the parties, ranging from denying that any rules had been violated to expressing understanding for the public’s outrage over the apparent hypocrisy at the heart of the British state.
He said people must wait for the outcome of an internal investigation by a senior civil servant before reaching conclusions.
Opponents portrayed him as a charlatan who demanded that the British abide by some of the toughest rules in peacetime history while his staff partyed.
The growing internal conservative rebellion was a “conspiracy with pork pie” because one alleged rebel lawmaker was from Melton, home of Melton Mowbray pork pie. Pork pie is also London slang for a lie.