Who wants to profile himself as the leader who unites the West against Russia, has now just become the first British incumbent ruler to have disobeyed the law. The future of him and the number two and possible replacement for him, Rishi Sunak, is at stake. All this happens when the great decisive battle for the south-east of the Ukraine is announced and on May 5 there are important municipal elections in all the districts of London and in many others of the country.
Not since the United Kingdom was formed 315 years ago has a sitting Prime Minister ever been reprimanded by the Metropolitan Police for flouting the law. The latter just happened on Tuesday, April 12 with Boris Johnson, but also his wife Carrie and his number two, Treasury Chancellor Rishi Sunak. For these 3 central figures of British power this may have been the equivalent of a devastating “Tuesday the 13th”. All of them, in addition to at least 50 directors and employees of the headquarters of the Premiership and the Treasurer, have been sanctioned and fined by the Metropolitan Police for having been found guilty of having disobeyed the rules that they themselves imposed for the rest of the population. during forty.
The Johnsons and Sunak immediately paid their fine and apologized. For them, the amount to pay is not much in monetary terms, but the mere fact of having been punished for breaking the law is something that could eventually lead to their downfall.
Despite being a monarchy, the United Kingdom prides itself on being based on the validity and respect for the law, which is not based on codes but on precedents. If rulers were allowed to pass over it, a dangerous precedent would be generated. That is one of the arguments used by those who demand that all those fined leave their charges.
The leaders of the 3 main opposition parties (Labour, Scottish National and Liberal Democrats) demand that Parliament be convened urgently and that Johnson step down as Prime Minister. They also argue that he, in addition, would have lied to the House of Commons (because he said that he did not participate in any party or social gathering during the quarantine in his official residence and office, and that he had never violated the rules), so has transgressed the ministerial code.
Since the first revelations were uncovered that Johnson had attended about a dozen social events – some with liquor – at the headquarters and residence of the head of the Government, he was bombarded with demands to resign or be made resign. This was particularly forceful at each weekly session of the House of Commons, where he came to answer questions from opposition leaders and other MPs.
However, Johnson consistently and skillfully managed to fight the bull. He first said that we had to wait for the final report from Sue Gray, an official who had been commissioned to investigate. Then, when this was going to take place, Scotland Yard appeared involved in those investigations, the same one that asked Gray not to reveal all her data so as not to harm her own data collections. The latter served to give the Government another pretext to delay the case.
Finally, on February 24, Russian troops entered Ukraine and the United Kingdom decided to become kyiv’s main European supporter. Today, in the British Isles, more blue-yellow flags of Ukraine are seen everywhere than the national 3-cross and 3-color flags themselves. With the war, the issue of Johnson’s transgressions ceased to be news and a topic in parliamentary debates. Moreover, Johnson tried to regain prestige and prominence, appearing as the unifier of the Western camp and the champion of an anti-Russian offensive.
Again, just like 40 years ago, a conservative government questioned by social adjustment policies sought to revitalize itself around a war. When the war with Argentina took place from April 2 to June 14, 1982 around the Falkland Islands and the South Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher was able to emerge victorious and with it go on to implement her attacks against the unions and the left and go to consolidate its new neoliberal model of privatizations. This ultimately helped corner and disintegrate the “socialist bloc” in 1989-91.
This time, London is not leading a war or sending soldiers to the front lines. However, Johnson has been traveling to different Eastern European capitals (and even to the Ukraine on more than one occasion) to propose giving more weapons, money and trainers to kyiv. And, precisely, Johnson traveled to this last city.
Last weekend, images of the British Prime Minister and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared walking outdoors, and as if nothing was happening or there was a war, in the streets and main square of kyiv. Johnson went to give him 120 armored vehicles and more missiles against ships, tanks and planes, in addition to giving a boost to Zelensky, who has many detractors at home. Although the Western media does not talk about it, in Ukraine the government keeps numerous opposition and leftist parties outlawed.
Shortly after Johnson’s tour of the Ukraine via a train from Poland, Zelensky appeared expressing his pleasure that his secret police (successor to the local KGB) had arrested Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of “Opposition Platform – For Life”. , the second largest party in the Ukrainian parliament, who previously came under house arrest. Medvedchuk, was the chief of staff of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. The average, likewise, still does not give importance to the fact that Ukraine is the only country in the world that has a regiment (that of Azov, which operates in Mariupol, the city center of the worst massacres) and several armed detachments that openly wear insignia Adolf Hitler’s Nazi SS.
The BBC itself acknowledges that in the battle for the Donbas, the southeastern region of Ukraine that Moscow claims it is seeking to liberate (arguing that most of its inhabitants speak Russian and voted for independence in 2014), the Ukrainian secret police are very active in seeking to arrest many local residents accused of having sympathies with Putin.
All the British press and partyocracy continue to argue that Ukraine must be defended, which they present as a democracy whose existence and sovereignty has been trampled on by Russia, a power to which it is correct to apply the worst post-war financial sanctions and exclude it of any sports competition, as well as United Nations organizations.
As I write this note, a person who had relatives killed by COVID-19 has just appeared on the BBC news, the same person who says that it is not possible for a “charlatan” and “liar” like Johnson to remain in power after they forced the rest of the English to remain locked up in their houses, while they themselves violated their own rules. He even went so far as to suggest that he found it very strange that Scotland Yard had imposed its fines just as Parliament is in recess for Easter and Easter. For him, if this had happened on a normal Tuesday, on the eve of the weekly question-and-answer session where the Premier is due to appear every Wednesday at noon, it would have been devastating for Johnson.
The BBC presenter retorted him saying that nothing can be insinuated, especially against an institution as serious as the Metropolitan Police. The truth is that, although Johnson was not the victim of any bombing while he made his tour to kyiv, the Scotland Yard fine is the worst bombing for his political future.
Various polls, including one published in the “Daily Telegraph,” the conservative morning for which Johnson was a columnist, reveal that around 3 in 5 Britons believe the Prime Minister should resign.
The problem is who can replace him. The most publicized candidate to relieve him in the position had been his number two, Rishi Sunak, who has had a lot of support due to the subsidies he made to businesses that had to be closed or to workers who could not go to work during the quarantines. and then to the push he made to restaurants, bars and hotels by offering that the government would pay part of the diners’ bill after the end of a first lockdown.
However, Sunak has also been fined and in the previous days revelations were uncovered due to the fact that his British billionaire wife did not pay taxes in the country by having acquired the status of non-domiciled.
Several conservatives, including critics of Johnson, do not think that “one should change horses while crossing the river.” They maintain that while the Ukrainian war lasts, the Prime Minister should not be replaced. However, that has happened before during World War II (when Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain) or during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (when Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair). Neither France nor Hungary have postponed their general elections during the current conflict in Ukraine, despite the fact that both have been or may lead to a change of government.
An additional problem is that on May 5th local elections are held in all London boroughs, and in many of the UK. It would be difficult for the “Tories” to confront these in the midst of a resignation of their leader and Prime Minister. According to the rules, the Prime Minister must represent the force that achieves an absolute majority of the 650 members of the House of Commons. As the Conservatives control 360 seats (about 55% of this), they are the ones who must propose the queen, whom she must name with her Premier.
To decide who should be the leader of conservatism, there is a whole selection process that involves an initial round in which the Tory caucus must eliminate vote after vote those who receive less support, until finally the two best positioned candidates must go to the bases to hold a series of debates in different regions and compete for the vote of its 150,000 members. This last figure barely represents less than 0.2% of the 66 million Britons, but this minority (which is largely made up of pensioners, men and white Anglo-Saxons), ends up deciding who is the person who should govern the country.
If that process is triggered now, it would imply colliding with the campaigns that are due door to door in the municipal elections. For many Tories it will be a great disadvantage to go to these elections with such a questionable leader, but it could be worse to go to these with an internal election process. Hence, possibly, the process for the Tories to change leadership will take time.
Another rule that the Conservatives have is that in order to remove Johnson, the majority of his 360 parliamentarians must approve it in an internal vote. At the moment, they have not secured a sufficient number to request, trigger this process and, even less, to remove it. And that process can only be given once during 12 months. Those plotting against Johnson today must be waiting for yet more police tickets to appear, for Sue Gray’s final report to be filed, and for the party to take an electoral thrashing.
Beware, Scotland Yard has only fined Johnson in one of the many cases that it has been investigating. This is an event that happened on June 19, 2020, when Johnson celebrated his first birthday at the Prime Minister’s residence. It must have cost him very expensive to have received a cake and songs of “happy birthday”, despite having been with members of his staff for only 8 to 9 minutes. There are more serious complaints that are being processed.
Johnson does not want to resign and he wants to continue governing until the end of his five-year term in December 2024, and then lead his party again in the general elections. Boris, as he likes to be called, is possibly the most astute politician in the country. He has managed to survive previous crises, he has won every vote he has stood for (for MP, to be the only Tory to have beaten the Labor Left twice to be Mayor of London and then to be Premier, and was the architect of the victory of the yes to the rupture with the European Union in the 2016 referendum, in which all party leaders and current or former prime ministers of the country were defeated).
In any case, the Johnson brand has been greatly affected. If he survives, it is not known for how long. The blow he has been receiving is going to be used by Labour, Liberals and separatists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to reinvigorate themselves, and also by Moscow to weaken its main rival on the continent.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.