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Partial legislatures threaten Boris Johnson again

Partial legislatures threaten Boris Johnson again

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Parliament on June 22, 2022 – UK PARLIAMENT/AFP

Two constituencies in England will vote this Thursday (23) to replace Conservative MPs who resigned and, in the event of another setback for Boris Johnson’s party, the controversial prime minister, weakened by several scandals, could face difficulties again.

Elections take place from 7:00 am (3:00 am Brasília time) until 22:00 pm (18:00 pm Brasília time), but the results should only be announced on Friday morning.

The partial legislatures come just 17 days after Johnson survived a confidence vote tabled by rebel lawmakers from his party.

Supported by 211 of the party’s 359 lawmakers, the prime minister guaranteed his stay in office, but the 148 votes against his leadership showed discontent among conservatives.

Defeats in Wakefield, a traditional stronghold of the left in the so-called “red wall” of deindustrialized northern England, which the Conservatives won in 2019, and in Tiverton-Honiton, a historically conservative constituency in the south-west of the country, would increase the Tories’ anger against their leader. .

Wakefield’s seat was vacated when Conservative MP Imran Khan was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old.

In Tiverton-Honiton, his colleague Neil Parish, 65, resigned after he was caught watching a porn video on his smartphone while in Parliament.

In the event of a setback for the Conservatives, the tendency will be to attribute the result to the fall in the popularity of Johnson, considered a “liar” by most Britons and who faces the discontent of a population that lives with a historic inflation, which reached 9.1 % in May.

A big winner in the 2019 legislative elections thanks to his pledge to deliver Brexit, Johnson is no longer considered a phenomenon at the polls by his supporters, after the Conservative defeats in two by-laws last year and a setback in the local elections in May.

– “Partygate” –

Among the scandals that have affected his image, the prime minister has been facing the “partygate” since December, as the various illegal parties organized in Downing Street in 2020 and 2021 are known when the restrictions of the covid pandemic prohibited such gatherings.

Johnson was only fined £50 ($62) for attending a party for his 56th birthday on June 19, 2020 in the council of ministers room.

Despite the light punishment, he became the first acting British head of government sanctioned for breaking the law.

Johnson apologized but said he had not thought the brief meeting “could constitute a breach of the norms” he had imposed on the British and rejected calls for resignation by the opposition and some of its MPs.

Some of his advisers left office in protest, such as John Penrose, his “anti-corruption czar” who resigned on June 6 as he considered it “quite clear that (Johnson) has broken” the official code of conduct and that he too should leave the government.

Ten days later, Christopher Geidt, the prime minister’s adviser on ethics and compliance with the ministerial code of ethics, also left the government.

Geidt, a former diplomat who was Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary for 10 years, called the idea that the prime minister “may somehow deliberately violate his own code an affront”.

Geidt is the second ministerial ethics adviser to resign in three years, after Alex Allan. The latter left the government in 2020 after Johnson refused to accept his findings on allegations of bullying made against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Despite the victory in the confidence vote, the prime minister will soon be the subject of a parliamentary investigation to determine whether he knowingly lied to MPs when he assured that there were no parties in Downing Street, which were later sanctioned by the police with 126 fines.

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