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The Fall of Boris Johnson

After nearly 3 years in office, Boris Johnson on the 7th of July, 2022 resigned from the office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after a series of resignations and scandals at Downing Street. The Conservative Party leaders will announce their new leader on the 5th of September, after 2-3 rounds of voting. Currently, this race is being led by Rishi Sunak, an Indian-origin British conservative politician who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Boris Johnson. As this political realignment takes place, let’s take a look at the turbulent circumstances that lead to Boris’ ultimate demise.

A look at Boris’ Term as Prime Minister

Boris Johnson stormed into the spotlight as the Conservative Party leader and a successful London mayor. His persona, along with his zealous Brexit-centered campaign, fuelled his popularity among the British people; helping him succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next Prime Minister in the 2019 snap election. By then however, the deception had already begun. A €350 Million per week funding promise to the NHS in place of the EU was rendered misleading and a misuse of statistics by the Statistics Authority of the UK. This funding pledge was incidentally one of Boris’ largest promises to the British public, and also the first of many controversies in his term as Prime Minister.

Just months into his scandal-filled term as Britain’s leader, came Boris’ most salient test : Covid-19, where the conservative party leader had less success than failure. He was late to impose stringent lockdowns, resulting in thousands of deaths and illnesses as well as heartbreaking stories of families never reuniting. Despite a successful vaccine campaign, Johnson’s elevation to a British Hero was short lived. Business was slow and could not recover to a pre-pandemic state while families could not fully forgive the government’s poor handling and execution of safety norms during the pandemic. This public discontentment was just the beginning of Bojo’s downfall as the 77th prime minister of the UK.

The Downing Street Refurbishment Scandal

After winning the December 2019 general elections, Boris Johnson and his partner, just as their predecessors, decided to renovate their private residence above 11 Downing Street. Prime Ministers are allotted €30,000 of tax-paid money to refurbish the private residence. However, Bojo’s renovations have been estimated to cost at least €112,000, with some analysts even estimating close to €200,000. This is where gaps started to emerge in Boris' explanation of his source of funding.

After it was reported that the prime minister had planned to set up a fund through which donors would pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the Downing Street residence, Boris publicly announced that he had paid for the renovations personally. Later, in defense to allegations of improperly using Conservative party donations, he said he was unaware of the source of payments. An investigation launched by the electoral commission found that a €52,000 donation made by Lord Brownlow was left undeclared by the conservative party. A chain of messages between the prime minister and Lord Brownlow was discovered soon thereafter. This led to speculation that the Prime Minister was in fact aware of the source of payment, although this was never confirmed.

The only monetary damage incurred was a €17,000 fine by the electoral commission for not declaring the donation properly, but what followed was a shadow of doubt over Bojo’s credibility, making this scandal another step down towards the PM’s resignation.

The Partygate Scandal

The next scandal in Boris Johnson’s spiraling descent as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister was the partygate scandal. Emerging along with Covid-19, the partygate scandal involved a series of parties and gatherings amongst members of the conservative party. The majority of these reported gatherings were at 10 Downing Street or other government buildings.

The police began investigating the reported gatherings in January 2022 - concluding their investigation in May 2022 after making 126 fines, primarily against members of conservative party. They found that Bojo and his colleagues enjoyed numerous gatherings on Downing Street, from wine-time Fridays to celebrating the Prime Minister’s birthday. Boris himself was found guilty along with his partner Rishi Sunak.

Although Boris got away with only a single fine, the partygate scandal was another dark stain on his term as PM. He became the first Prime Minister to be charged for breaking the law while in office. Not only did this scandal impact his record, it impacted the citizens of the United kingdom; who during grueling Covid-19 waves in 2020 and 2021 were barred from visiting their family, their dying loved ones, their parents and the elderly. This quite public scandal caused widespread anguish and fuelled hate towards the Johnson Administration.

The Chris Pincher Scandal & The Resignations

On the 29th of June, MP Chris Pincher was accused of groping two men at a private member’s club in London, leading to a barrage of allegations from others dating years back. He was also the Conservative Party’s Deputy Whip. While the Prime Minister denied being aware of any such allegations prior to appointing Pincher as the party’s Deputy Whip, he later admitted to being told in 2019 of a formal complaint made against Chris Pincher. This was the nail in the coffin. Along with the cost-of-living crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Britain’s tax rise, the Partygate scandal and the Downing Street Scandal, it compelled numerous members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet to resign. Citing the appointment of MP Chris Pincher as Deputy Chief Whip as a testament to Johnson’s lack of honesty and integrity during his term as Prime Minister, Health Secretary Savid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak resigned on the 5th of July, 2022. This monumental event triggered a series of resignations amounting to more than 60 within the next 24 hours.

Boris’ Resignation

Despite announcing he would stay as Prime Minister, on the morning of the 7th of July, Boris Johnson resigned from the office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He stated that he would remain in office as a caretaker till a new Conservative Party leader was elected by the 5th of September, 2022. Boris’ term as PM was eventful to say the least; his shabby-orange hair and evocative statements propelling him to the skies of internet recognition. However, as has been displayed throughout the last few months, comic recognition does not necessarily go hand in hand with widespread popularity. Johnson’s popular persona quickly became overshadowed by his incompetence in office, resulting finally in him being forced out by his peers and the general public.


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