BoJo: I'm not going anywhere

AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have survived the vote of no confidence last month, but his troubles were far from over. New claims about parties held at 10 Downing Street showed up after the vote and a significant percentage of his own party have already stated that he needs to go. This week the temperature was turned up even further when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid abruptly resigned last night. They stated that the Conservative Party was going in the wrong direction and that would not be fixed under BoJo’s leadership. If they expected that to be the final straw that drove Johnson out of office, they were doomed to be disappointed. (Associated Press)

A defiant British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was battling to stay in power on Wednesday after his government was rocked by the resignation of two top ministers, who said they could no longer serve under his scandal-tarred leadership.

His first challenge is getting through Wednesday, where he faces tough questions at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in Parliament, and a long-scheduled grilling by a committee of senior lawmakers…

In the past few months, Johnson has been fined by police and slammed by an investigator’s report over lockdown-breaching parties in government during the pandemic; survived a no-confidence vote by his party in which 41% of Conservative lawmakers voted to oust him; and has seen formerly loyal lieutenants urge him to resign.

Rather than apologizing for the umpteenth time and collecting his things, Johnson immediately appointed two new people to replace the departing ministers. Seemingly adding insult to injury, the Prime Minister appointed his own Chief of Staff to serve as the new health secretary.

BoJo is scheduled for a weekly round of questions from Parliament today, so these resignations and the underlying causes for them will no doubt come up. But what do they expect Johnson to say that he hasn’t already said 100 times or more? He’s apologized for any negative “perceptions” he may have created, but still doesn’t feel that he really did anything wrong. Earlier this week he told reporters that he wants to stick around and continue leading into the 2030s.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly shocked the very traditional members of his own party by refusing to go along with long-established but unwritten protocols of behavior. It has traditionally been expected that a Prime Minister would immediately resign if they were found to have broken the law. And that means any law. But the problem is that the British government never bothered to write that down anywhere and codify it into law. It was just something that was always expected.

This is probably a fitting time to remind everyone that the office of Prime Minister in Great Britain doesn’t actually exist. It is not established by any statute or constitutional document anywhere in the government. Having a Prime Minister is just something they started doing at one point and then kept on doing without bothering to formally establish it in their legal system. So of course there are no formal laws requiring the Prime Minister to resign after being fined for committing a crime. There are no laws saying that the Prime Minister has to do anything.

Boris Johnson has proven that he’s cut from a different cloth than other British politicians. He’s fully aware of the traditional expectations that are placed upon him. He simply refused to play by those rules. Or at least that’s how he’s acting at the moment. If there are too many defections from his own party in the near future, he may finally feel forced to bow out.