End of an era

July 17, 2022

Boris Johnson resigned from the Conservative Party leadership after facing a revolt

End of an era


ritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversy-plagued tenure has finally come to an end.

Amidst political uncertainty, the pound sterling has fallen to a two-year low. The cost of living has risen by as much as 14 percent and the fuel duty by 5p per litre. The national insurance rate has risen by 1.25 percent. The public and their MPs have been expressing their anger at the situation. As many as 65 MPs and several cabinet members including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have refused to support the Johnson leadership. The continuing protests have forced PM Boris Johnson to resign from the party leadership. He had earlier received a fixed penalty for breaking the law on Covid while participating in a birthday party held in June 2020 at No 10. Met Police, after investigation, issued 126 notices of fines to 83 people for violating the Covid rules. Boris Johnson thus became the first UK prime minister to be thus penalised while in office.

Johnson had initially tendered an apology but refused to resign. However, a group representing the bereaved families of Covid victims rejected the apology and said: “It is shameful that the PM attended the party.” Many MPs too expressed outrage and demanded Johnson’s resignation.

To add to his problems, deputy chief whip Chris Pincher faced groping allegations.

The resignation has triggered a race for Tory leadership. The Tory 1922 Committee has announced the schedule for the election of the new leader. The process began with the submission of nomination papers on July 12.

In the first round of votes held on July 13, two MPs of Pakistani origin, Sajid Javid and Rehman Chishti, were eliminated for failing to gain the backing of at least 20 MPs.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, initially a leadership candidate, has since retired in favour of Rishi Sunak, who has promised to deal with inflation and lower taxes. He has also promised a return to traditional conservative economic values. Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi too failed to reach the 20-votes threshold.

To speed up the competition, the 1922 Committee has increased the number of backers from 20 to 30. On July 14, several run-off rounds were held to further reduce the number of candidates.

Bob Blackman, the joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, has said the aim is to have the contest down to a final two by July 21. All 358 Tory MPs will vote on the first and second ballots.

To help them make their choice, about 200,000 Conservative paid members will vote in a postal ballot. On September 5, the new leader of the Tory party and the next PM of Britain will be announced when MPs return to Westminster from the summer break.

At first ballot the candidates for the Tory leadership included:

Rishi Sunak headed the race in the first round with the support of 88 votes. Penny Mordaunt had 67 votes and was in the second position. The third round of voting will be held on July 18, and the final contest on July 21.

Penny Mordaunt, 49, the junior trade minister. She has pro-Brexit credentials with social liberalism. She is playing on her experience in the Royal Navy.

Rishi Sunak, 42, is a former chancellor, and an early favourite to win the race.

Tom Tugendhat, 49, the chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has no government experience but has strong backing from the left of the Conservative Party.

Liz Truss. 46, the former foreign secretary, is pitching change in economic policies. She has had five cabinet roles.

Nadhim Zahawi, 55, the newly appointed chancellor, was an early favourite in the contest but struggled to gain momentum.

Kemi Badenoch, 42, the former equalities minister, has a low profile outside Westminster.

Jeremy Hunt, 55, the former health secretary, was one of the first to say that Johnson should step down as prime minister. His candidature was based on his record in government.

Forty-two-year Suella Braverman, the attorney-general, found support in the right-wing of the Conservative Party.

In the first round of voting, Rishi Sunak headed the race with the 88 votes; Penny Mordaunt secured 67 votes and was placed second. The third round of voting will be held on July 18 and the final contest on July 21.

The process will end on September 5 with the announcement of a new party leader, who will become the 58th prime minister of the United Kingdom.

10 Downing has confirmed that Boris Johnson is not defending his candidature for the premiership. He allegedly lobbied to get a job for a woman who claimed to have a sexual relationship with him while he was mayor of London.

Also under his leadership, Conservative lawmaker Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after being found guilty of having sexually abused a 15-year-old boy after trying to force him to drink alcohol before assaulting him. The MP had represented the Wakefield area in northern England. He had denied the allegation but was convicted of assaulting the boy at a house in 2008.

The victim had decided at that time not to proceed with a complaint but when Imran Ahmad Khan was elected to parliament in 2019, he pursued the case.

Another Conservative member of parliament was arrested on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and other offences. The lawmaker got bail in May and has not been identified in the media to protect the alleged victim’s identity. In the series of sexual crimes by Tory MPs, Neil Parish, another Conservative lawmaker, resigned after admitting that he twice watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

The parliament’s Standards Committee suspended the MP and former minister Owen Paterson over paid advocacy.

The Tory Party has since lost the two crucial by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton Honiton to Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, respectively.

The writer is a correspondent for Geo News, daily Jang and The News in London

End of an era