Boris Johnson’s Long, but Not Last, Week in Politics

CommentaryAt the beginning of last week, no one saw the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming. Then came the resignation of health minister Sajid Javid, quickly followed by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), who was then followed by 54 other members of the government, and it was game over. Javid told the BBC that his decision to resign came after listening to a sermon at prayer breakfast in Parliament, on July 5, given by Rev. Les Isaac who founded a volunteer group called the Street Pastors. He said: “I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind. I went straight back to my office and drafted the resignation letter and went to see the prime minister later in the day.” He denies he coordinated his resignation with Sunak, but it was some happenstance with Javid’s letter appearing on Twitter at 6.02 p.m. and Sunak’s at 6.11 p.m. Despite his efforts to stay on, Johnson bowed to the inevitable, and at high noon, or thereabouts, on July 7 he announced he would stand down as leader of the Conservative Party but stay on as prime minister, until a replacement is found. This wasn’t exactly the message that those who had sacrificed their jobs to get him to quit were expecting. They wanted him to hand in the seals of office immediately, and for a caretaker prime minister to take over—with the Queen’s permission of course. But they also knew that Johnson has made a career out of doing the unexpected and getting away with it, so they waited for his statement with some trepidation. When he emerged outside Downing Street, the speech he gave was eloquent, dignified, and bullish, even at times self-deprecating. It was classic BoJo. Describing his current predicament, he said, “As we’ve seen, at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful, and when the herd moves it moves, and my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable.” Had he just stood in front of a global audience and compared the honorable ministerial rebels to a bunch of cows? This went unnoticed by the media pundits who were analyzing his every utterance. What they did pick up on was that he never once used the word “resign” in what they thought was his resignation speech. For a while, it seemed he might have pulled a fast one on his detractors. Some worried he might be considering putting himself forward as a candidate to be the next prime minister, or at least leaving that door open. A spokesman for Johnson has since claimed this is “untrue.” However, he has refused to endorse any of the leadership contenders telling reporters, “I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support.” Is he being self-effacing or biding his time? When Winning Isn’t Enough Just last month Johnson survived a no-confidence vote over “Partygate,” which should have secured his position for at least a year according to Conservative Party rules. On top of that, he won an 80-seat majority in the last election, which the Conservatives haven’t enjoyed since the days of Thatcher, and he’s still only halfway through his first term. So, what changed? Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson once noted that “a week is a long time in politics,” and Johnson’s long week began when a new scandal emerged. This concerned claims of sexual misconduct against Conservative MP Chris Pincher. What was damaging for Johnson was that he had promoted him to a senior government position in February, despite having been made aware of past allegations against him. Admitting now that this was “a mistake” wasn’t going to cut it this time. The prime minister was already in the last chance saloon after being found guilty of breaking his own law when he attended numerous illegal gatherings at government residences during lockdown restrictions, including Downing Street. The Pincher affair may be the accepted reason for his abrupt announcement, but it’s probably not the only one. Parliament goes into summer recess on July 21, and it’s much better to get the ugly business of removing a leader out of the way now than at the start of the next session. It would also be good to think that saner voices were concerned he was dragging the UK ever closer to war with Russia over Ukraine, but more likely they decided he had lost his voter-mojo after the scale of two recent bi-election defeats. With the current cost of living crisis, the extra votes the Conservatives attracted in 2019 are disappearing faster than snow on a hot day. Their first step to redressing that was to remove a prime minister who had become more of a liability than an asset. It’s the Energy Stupid There are fears that the UK could soon fall into recession, and The Bank of England expects inflation to exceed 11 percent in the fall. Average household energy bills are likely to exceed $3,500 by the year’s end, and gas at the pumps costs up to $9 a gallon. Food prices are rising quickly too. Thi

Boris Johnson’s Long, but Not Last, Week in Politics

Commentary

At the beginning of last week, no one saw the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming. Then came the resignation of health minister Sajid Javid, quickly followed by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), who was then followed by 54 other members of the government, and it was game over.

Javid told the BBC that his decision to resign came after listening to a sermon at prayer breakfast in Parliament, on July 5, given by Rev. Les Isaac who founded a volunteer group called the Street Pastors.

He said: “I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind. I went straight back to my office and drafted the resignation letter and went to see the prime minister later in the day.”

He denies he coordinated his resignation with Sunak, but it was some happenstance with Javid’s letter appearing on Twitter at 6.02 p.m. and Sunak’s at 6.11 p.m.

Despite his efforts to stay on, Johnson bowed to the inevitable, and at high noon, or thereabouts, on July 7 he announced he would stand down as leader of the Conservative Party but stay on as prime minister, until a replacement is found.

This wasn’t exactly the message that those who had sacrificed their jobs to get him to quit were expecting. They wanted him to hand in the seals of office immediately, and for a caretaker prime minister to take over—with the Queen’s permission of course.

But they also knew that Johnson has made a career out of doing the unexpected and getting away with it, so they waited for his statement with some trepidation.

When he emerged outside Downing Street, the speech he gave was eloquent, dignified, and bullish, even at times self-deprecating. It was classic BoJo.

Describing his current predicament, he said, “As we’ve seen, at Westminster the herd instinct is powerful, and when the herd moves it moves, and my friends in politics, no one is remotely indispensable.”

Had he just stood in front of a global audience and compared the honorable ministerial rebels to a bunch of cows?

This went unnoticed by the media pundits who were analyzing his every utterance. What they did pick up on was that he never once used the word “resign” in what they thought was his resignation speech.

For a while, it seemed he might have pulled a fast one on his detractors. Some worried he might be considering putting himself forward as a candidate to be the next prime minister, or at least leaving that door open.

A spokesman for Johnson has since claimed this is “untrue.” However, he has refused to endorse any of the leadership contenders telling reporters, “I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support.” Is he being self-effacing or biding his time?

When Winning Isn’t Enough

Just last month Johnson survived a no-confidence vote over “Partygate,” which should have secured his position for at least a year according to Conservative Party rules.

On top of that, he won an 80-seat majority in the last election, which the Conservatives haven’t enjoyed since the days of Thatcher, and he’s still only halfway through his first term. So, what changed?

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson once noted that “a week is a long time in politics,” and Johnson’s long week began when a new scandal emerged. This concerned claims of sexual misconduct against Conservative MP Chris Pincher.

What was damaging for Johnson was that he had promoted him to a senior government position in February, despite having been made aware of past allegations against him. Admitting now that this was “a mistake” wasn’t going to cut it this time.

The prime minister was already in the last chance saloon after being found guilty of breaking his own law when he attended numerous illegal gatherings at government residences during lockdown restrictions, including Downing Street.

The Pincher affair may be the accepted reason for his abrupt announcement, but it’s probably not the only one. Parliament goes into summer recess on July 21, and it’s much better to get the ugly business of removing a leader out of the way now than at the start of the next session.

It would also be good to think that saner voices were concerned he was dragging the UK ever closer to war with Russia over Ukraine, but more likely they decided he had lost his voter-mojo after the scale of two recent bi-election defeats.

With the current cost of living crisis, the extra votes the Conservatives attracted in 2019 are disappearing faster than snow on a hot day. Their first step to redressing that was to remove a prime minister who had become more of a liability than an asset.

It’s the Energy Stupid

There are fears that the UK could soon fall into recession, and The Bank of England expects inflation to exceed 11 percent in the fall. Average household energy bills are likely to exceed $3,500 by the year’s end, and gas at the pumps costs up to $9 a gallon. Food prices are rising quickly too.

This is being blamed on the war in Ukraine, which Johnson helped inflame, but that’s certainly not the whole truth. What that war has done is expose the folly of the woke energy policies of successive UK governments, culminating in Johnson’s net-zero CO2 vanity project.

Indeed, his very long week included an attack on the viability of his renewable energy plan from former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, who claims Johnson’s ill-thought-through policies will cause huge damage to the UK economy.

In a devastating critique in The Telegraph newspaper, Frost warned of inevitable “compulsory demand control and rationing.” Already, gas home heating costs are almost four times higher than last year.

He concluded with an economics 101 lesson for the faux-Conservative prime minister: “I don’t like poverty, I don’t like artificial limits on human aspiration and potential, and when you don’t have enough energy, you get a lot of both. That’s why we need to change tack now. We need an energy policy that delivers power at acceptable cost, whenever we need it – because an advanced economy without that will not stay advanced for long.”

To achieve that he called for the current moratorium on shale extraction, which Johnson imposed in 2019, to be lifted.

In light of the current energy shortage the government is now reconsidering its position, but business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has said that lifting the ban on fracking would only happen if it could be proven to be “safe, sustainable and of minimal disturbance to those living and working nearby.”

It would certainly be a tough decision to take, given the power and influence the green lobby enjoys. Yet looking at the grim current UK energy situation, he has few other options.

The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission has warned that as many as 6 million households could face power cuts if there are additional supply issues with Russian energy imports.

“The Government could ask people to turn down their thermostats. I’d be amazed if the Government didn’t do this at some point this winter,” Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, told The Telegraph.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Andrew Davies is a UK-based video producer and writer. His award-winning video on underage sex abuse helped Barnardos children’s charity change UK law, while his documentary “Batons, Bows and Bruises: A History of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,” ran for six years on the Sky Arts Channel.