LONDON, July 6: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure to go following the shock resignations of two key cabinet ministers on the same day, political experts told Xinhua on Tuesday.
“This looks like the beginning of the end for Boris Johnson. He’s lost two of the ministers, who many would regard as among the most competent in the Cabinet, those who have a quality that would be accepted by other potential leaders,” said Professor Iain Begg, a political expert at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s (LSE) European Institute.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak resigned on Tuesday in protest against Johnson’s leadership. Javid said he “can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this government,” while Sunak criticized the government’s lack of competence.
Though Johnson has scrambled to make a swift cabinet reshuffle by appointing Steve Barclay as the new health secretary and Nadhim Zahawi as the new Chancellor, Begg believes the departure of two high-profile ministers and their scathing attack on Johnson’s leadership will add to the pressure on his already precarious premiership.
“The two resignations tonight and a couple of other resignations by lesser figures clearly intensify the pressure on Boris Johnson to go,” he told Xinhua, noting a series of scandals engulfing the prime minister.
He called Johnson’s survival of a no-confidence vote within his own party weeks ago “a close-run thing.”
In the confidence vote over the “Partygate” scandal that saw Johnson and government employees revel in alcohol-fueled parties at Downing Street over the past two years when the country was in COVID-19 lockdown, lawmakers who voted against him amounted to more than 40 percent.
The latest scandal involved Johnson’s appointment of lawmaker Christopher Pincher to deputy chief whip despite being informed of formal complaints about his sexual misconduct.
Johnson went on television to apologize for Pincher’s appointment minutes before the two cabinet ministers’ announcements of resignation.
“Johnson is now extremely weakened. The question for him now is whether others, either in the Cabinet or in his own party, will say, this is too much. We must get rid of this man because he’s bringing us all down,” Begg said. “The accumulation of forces is pointing in the direction of him going, and going quickly.”
“The likelihood is there’s going to be a lot soul-searching, both among members of the Cabinet who are not directly beholden to Boris Johnson and others in the party, and the likelihood is that they will find a way to topple him,” he added.
Professor Jon Tonge from the political department at the University of Liverpool told Xinhua, “Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on political death row. Any further resignations and it’s surely the end. His political credibility is in ruins regardless.”