(Update: recasts after Prime Minister’s Questions)
London, Jul 6 (EFE).- British prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday continued to resist growing calls for him to resign in the wake of multiple scandals that have engulfed his premiership.
Three more members of his Conservative government – secretaries of state for the Treasury and Children’s Affairs, John Glen and Will Quince, respectively, and the parliamentary assistant at the Transport Ministry, Laura Trott – stepped down on Wednesday, a day after the shock resignations of chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid.
The flurry of resignations comes in the wake of Johnson acknowledging on Tuesday, after initially denying it, that he was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by Conservative party whip Chris Pincher and that Pincher had been investigated in the past for inappropriate behavior towards men.
Johnson had promoted Pincher to the role of party whip when the prime minister was aware that he had been accused of inappropriate behavior while working at the foreign office, a decision Johnson said Wednesday that he “greatly” regrets.
“Clearly that was not enough – in hindsight I should have realized that he would not change,” the prime minister said during a tense Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Johnson said he intended to remain in office to “continue to deliver on the mandate” he was given, insisting that he had “acted immediately” after hearing of the new allegations against Pincher last week.
Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer said that by promoting Pincher, the prime minister had tolerated “appalling behavior” that is “unacceptable in any walk of life”.
“The only thing (Johnson) is delivering is chaos,” he said, adding that the raft of Tory resignations was the “first case of the sinking ships fleeing the rat.”
“He is only in power because he has been propped up for months by a corrupted party defending the indefensible,” Starmer said.
“It is no longer a case of swapping the person at the top. Isn’t it clear the only way the country can get the fresh start it needs is by getting rid of the lot of them,” he added.
Despite the pressure, the Conservative leader said his government remains focused on helping families across the country to overcome the crisis of rising inflation and said that he is set to cut taxes for 30 million citizens.
“It is exactly when times are tough and when the country faces pressures on the economy and pressures on their budgets, and when we have the biggest war in Europe for 80 years, that is exactly the moment when you would expect a government to continue with its work, not to walk away and to get on with our job and focus on the things that matter to the people of this country,” he said.
The parliamentary session ended with Sajid Javid delivering a devastating rebuke of Johnson’s leadership, in which he said the prime minister’s actions had undermined public trust in the party and the government.
“We have reason to question the truth and integrity of what we have all been told. And at some point, we have to conclude that enough is enough. I believe that point is now,” he said.
“I have concluded that the problem starts at the top, and that is not going to change” until Johnson steps down, Javid said.
The Conservative leader recently narrowly overcame an internal vote of no confidence in his party, but the vote demonstrated the dissatisfaction of 41% of MPs with his leadership following a series of scandals, including multiple parties held at Downing Street when the country was under strict lockdown due to the pandemic.
British media reports suggest that Tory “rebels” against Johnson are looking to modify the rules of the influential 1922 Committee – which groups the MPs of the party without a government post – to be able to call a second motion of censure against the prime minister.
Under the current rules of that committee, Johnson can’t face another motion of censure for twelve months. EFE