British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fighting for his political survival on Wednesday after his government was rocked by a series of resignations mainly over questions of the prime minister’s personal integrity.
A series of scandals, the most recent being Mr Johnson’s appointment of a senior party official with a record of previous sexual misconduct who is again accused of such behaviour, have brought the prime minister’s judgement into question.
His government, which has previously been hit by resignations over issues surrounding Mr Johnson’s conduct as well as policy decisions, suffered a severe blow when two of his top cabinet ministers quit in quick succession on Tuesday.
The resignations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Rishi Sunak and the Minister of Health Sajid Javid set off a flood of resignations which had reached 38 by Wednesday evening UK time.
A tumultuous sitting of the UK Parliament, the House of Commons, for the weekly Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday saw Mr Johnson adamantly declaring that he will not resign despite a growing crescendo of calls from within his own ruling Conservative Party, the opposition Labour Party and others for him to quit.
A defiant Boris Johnson maintains that a leadership contest now to replace him would prevent the economic growth needed in the country.
Later on Wednesday afternoon before a House of Commons parliamentary committee the beleaguered prime minister was grilled by MPs of all parties over his policies, and issues of his personal integrity.
He was later in a meeting with members of his cabinet, most of whom including his loyalists it was reported had appealed to him to step down. Those pleas were rejected by Mr Johnson who vowed to fight on.
It was speculated that more resignations were forthcoming over Mr Johnson’s refusal to quit.
The prime minister has been beset by a long-running series of questions mainly over his personal integrity and conduct in public office.
He has been battling the so-called Partygate scandal for which after denying that there were any illegal parties at his Number 10 Downing Street office during the lockdown, was forced into an embarrassing u-turn after an independent investigation uncovered evidence including Mr Johnson’s presence at some of the events.
He had claimed he thought they were work meetings and not parties but was fined for breaking the very law which he had put in place.
Mr Johnson who remains very popular among a core group of supporters for what some have described as his maverick approach to politics, said recently in an interview that he is not going to undergo ‘psychological transformation’.
In 2019 he led the Conservative party to its biggest political victory since Margaret Thatcher on a ticket of ‘getting Brexit done’ - the campaign that resulted in the UK leaving the European Union.
But since then, making Brexit work has been a major change for Mr Johnson in and has seen a spate of resignations over that and losses the party has suffered under Mr Johnson in a number of by-elections.
This latest crisis is the most serious facing the under-pressure prime minister.
With discontent mounting within the Conservative party over his leadership, Mr Johnson who survived a vote of confidence in June was expected to face another one possibly as early as next week as MPs of the Conservative Party were set to change the rules which currently limit no-confidence votes to one per year.
The drama in Westminster continues.