UK premier vows to remain in office but 1922 Committee prepared to weigh in as more MPs want prime minister gone
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will “hang on” in his position despite the greater pressure from opposition parties and Conservative backbenchers who urge him to resign on Wednesday.
Johnson told the lawmakers in the House of Commons that he would continue to deliver his party’s manifesto as the leader of the government, despite the latest surge of resignations including two senior ministers.
Labour leader Keir Starmer likened the resigning ministers to “the charge of the lightweight brigade.”
Starmer dismissed Johnson’s new front bench team as “a Z-list cast of nodding dogs,” adding that Tories who are resigning now, “have no integrity.”
Also urging Johnson to resign, Scottish National Party leader in Westminster Ian Blackford said he recently compared Johnson to Monty Python’s Black Knight but in fact, “he is more like the dead parrot.”
Blackford was referring to two well-known sketches from a famous British comedy troupe from the 1970s.
“The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he has been handed a colossal mandate is to keep going and that’s what I’m going to do,” Johnson said.
He was responding to a question from Tim Loughton, a Tory backbencher, who questioned if there were any circumstances that Johnson could resign.
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid said “the reset button can only work so many times,” as he gave his resignation speech at the House of Commons.
“There’s only so many times you can turn that machine on and off before you realize something is fundamentally wrong,” he said.
“The problem starts at the top and that is not going to change.”
Javid said Johnson’s leadership will damage the reputation of the Conservative Party in the future.
Housing Minister Stuart Andrew resigned following the prime minister’s question session, becoming the latest to leave the government.
“There comes a time when you have to look at your own personal integrity and that time is now,” he said.
A total of 27 MPs also voiced no confidence in Johnson as the leader.
Johnson survived a vote of confidence a month ago, and a new challenge against his leadership cannot be triggered for a year as per party rules.
However, the party’s 1922 Committee will reportedly look into changing the rules to initiate a new vote on Johnson’s future as the leader.
Allegations against former deputy chief whip
The backdrop to the two high-profile resignations came after a scandal over Chris Pincher, a government MP who resigned as the deputy chief whip last week after allegations about an incident that occurred at a private members’ club.
Downing Street initially said Johnson was unaware of previous specific allegations against Pincher, but it later emerged that Johnson was in fact informed when he was the foreign minister in 2019 of previous instances of alleged misconduct on Pincher’s part.
Just before the resignations on Tuesday, Johnson apologized for appointing Pincher as the deputy chief whip.
“I think it was a mistake and I apologize for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do,” he said.
“I apologize to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this Government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”
He added: “If I had my time again I would think back on it and recognize that he wasn’t going to learn a lesson and he wasn’t going to change and I regret that.”