Analysis: We could be seeing the beginning of the end of Boris Johnson’s political career
London (CNN) Next week could be the beginning of the end Boris Johnson’s political career. It is a remarkable turnaround for the man who four years ago won the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher dominated UK politics in the 1980s.
Johnson will give televised evidence to a parliamentary committee after denying he deliberately misled Parliament. the blocking rules were broken At 10 Downing Street, then his official residence and the place where he worked as Prime Minister, during the covid pandemic
Although no longer the leader, Johnson remains at the helm of the ruling Conservative Party, and remains a headache for current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
His resignation as prime minister followed a seemingly endless cycle of scandals, and polls again showed he was unpopular in the country. However, there are still – much less than a year ago – voices in the party who support Johnson, who believe that he is the victim of a witch hunt.
To varying degrees, these supporters would like Johnson back in the front row, or even potentially in Downing Street, before the next election because they believe he has something of the Midas touch that the party can do when things go wrong. in the polls
Whether Johnson himself believes this is unknown, but the willingness of his loyalists to do his bidding means that Suna can undermine him at will, and if he chooses, he can organize rebellions that cause real pain to the prime minister. And allies say the temptation to do so is strong, as Suna has cast himself as the anti-Johnson since taking office, undermining key policymakers in the process.
The danger for Johnson is at the end of the commission’s investigation, whenever that happens.
The focus of his inquiry is whether Johnson knew he was misleading Parliament when he said all the rules on Covid-19 were being followed during Downing Street’s national lockdown. He made these claims in December 2021.
The police subsequently issued more than 100 fines to people working in Downing Street, including Johnson himself. Johnson also took part in many of the events that the police believed to have broken the rules. So it will be up to Johnson to explain why he believes no rules were broken and why he made the claim in Parliament. In some cases, these events were parties where people carried cases of wine into the building while the rest of the country was locked at home, unable to see their dying relatives. Even Johnson’s communications director at the time admitted they couldn’t explain how the meetings were within the rules.
Misleading Parliament is a breach of the ministerial code governing the conduct of ministers.
The Committee may recommend to Parliament that it be suspended. This is where things could start to get messy for Johnson and the Conservative Party.
There are actually three possible outcomes of the investigation. That Johnson did nothing wrong or that he did so badly that an apology would be enough. It could recommend a suspension in parliament for less than 10 days, which would require parliamentary approval. Or he could recommend a suspension of more than 10 days, which, if approved by Parliament, could trigger a snap election and see Johnson lose his seat entirely — despite losing the top job, he still represents a west London constituency.
All three pose potential problems for Johnson and Sunak.
If the commission does not recommend that Johnson be suspended, he and his ultra-loyalists can claim, as they have already done, that the entire investigation was orchestrated by people who wanted to bring him down. Although Johnson’s group of allies is small today, they are good at making a lot of noise. And if the polls continue to be bad for Sunak, he might start thinking about challenging his leadership before the next election.
The least likely outcome, most insiders agree, is a long pause that will lead to by-elections, If Johnson’s voters demand it.
The conservative majority would probably agree that the effects of this would be too toxic and best avoided. It would raise questions about whether he should stand as a Conservative and, if so, how much support the party should give him. The level of internal unrest that all of this might create is not worth it, as it is not certain that Johnson would want to contest the seat. That said, as painful as all this will be, Johnson’s humiliation at the hands of his constituents could be enough to end his political career.
Finally, if the committee recommends a shorter break, Conservative MPs are put in the unenviable position of having to publicly say whether or not they agree. Although Johnson is no longer the political force he once was, he is still popular among conservative members. Still, according to pollster YouGov, he’s the country’s most famous politician with a huge public platform, probably not the kind of person you want to upset. It would also mean that he is a member of parliament, and therefore able to create problems from within the house, together with his supporters. And again, if Sunak’s polls don’t improve, those loyalists may get ideas for a new leader as the election approaches.
None of the above is a good option for those who want to see the back of Johnson, which, it bears repeating, is the majority of Conservative MPs. However, it is the latter option—despite the obvious risks–that is generally considered the best option among lawmakers.
Conservative MPs generally say they are fed up with the Boris Johnson show, although they are reluctant to say so in public. They believe that his time as prime minister proved him unfit for office. They believe he has done more to tarnish the party’s reputation than almost anyone else and hold him responsible for the collapse of Conservative support. But they also recognize that it is weaker than it has ever been.
In recent weeks, Suna has accomplished things in office that Johnson could not. He has secured a new Brexit deal that seemed impossible under Johnson. An agreement has been reached with France on the passage of illegal migrants. Relative calm has returned to the financial markets.
Johnson has taken a couple of digs at Sunak in recent weeks, but they’ve mostly been dismissed as petulant and he’s done more to highlight his failures. As one former government minister and Johnson ally said: “If he’s not careful he risks ending up like Nigel Farage. Making a lot of noise but looking increasingly desperate, tragic and a bit ridiculous.”
Ask Conservative MPs what they think will happen if he’s suspended and you’ll get answers like “he’ll probably throw a few tantrums and then leave”. Others say “it’s not really important. We’ve all moved on” and “we’ve decided to end the abusive relationship.”
The most common response you’ll get from MPs — both those who sympathize with Johnson and those who despise him — is that they know it’s over. now more interested in making money than anything else, so it will probably disappear quietly. Since leaving office he has earned huge sums of money giving speeches and is likely to write books that will earn him more than he could as a mere prime minister. Even some of his biggest supporters seem resigned, calling the findings of the investigation corrupt and biased.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, if it turns out to be the beginning of the end of the Boris Johnson story, is that it was not a scandal that affected him. Over time, more and more dirt stuck to it and eventually it became too heavy to carry. When he was gone, few missed the roar of his battle sabers and bombastic style. And if things stay this way, Britain’s most identifiable politician of a generation may not come out of the fray, but rather fade into the background as everyone else moves on.