Credibility in free fall
Will Quince, an undersecretary who resigned this morning, explained he left because he was asked to lie to the media. Johnson’s credibility has become the main issue after months of scandals, lies and attempts to cover up the torrent of revelations. The main problem was the partygate, the scandal over illegal parties in Downing Street during lockdown periods. A violation of the rules that offended the British and was aggravated by the premier’s repeated denials.
Johnson was fined by police, while a parliamentary committee is investigating whether he lied to deputies in violation of the ministerial code. Within the Conservative party, the revolt had started, which on 6 June led to a vote of no confidence that Johnson narrowly won. 41% of Tory MPs voted against him. In recent months, two ethics officials have resigned, in addition to party president Oliver Dowden, who had declared that “we cannot go on as if nothing had happened”.
Appreciation to historical lows
The Conservative party has sensationally lost a series of by-elections in constituencies that until recently were considered impregnable fiefdoms of the Tories. Polls reveal that the premier’s popularity is at an all-time low, as confirmed by people’s boos when he appears in public. It was a vertical fall for Johnson, who in 2019 had triumphed at the polls, winning a very large majority in Parliament for the Tories thanks to the promise to “conclude Brexit”.
The premier had been challenged at the beginning of the pandemic for the chaotic management of the health crisis, but had regained the image of winning with the success of the mass vaccination program. Britain was the first country to approve and use the vaccine and to quickly set up vaccination centers across the country.
The scandals and the economic crisis of recent months
Long considered a coffee machine, the party’s trump card, Johnson is now seen as a problem for the Tories and a big loser. The party is now talking openly about the possibility of a second vote of no confidence, which would involve changing the current rules which provide for a minimum period of 12 months between one vote and another. Johnson argues that he must move forward to deal with the real problems of the people, which are the rising cost of living, soaring inflation and the slowing economy. Critics of him, even within the party, believe instead that a premier under siege who has lost all credibility can only defend himself from the accusations and is unable to govern. It will be seen in the next few days, perhaps in the next few hours, if Johnson has definitely lost his magic touch.