May 18, 2022

Image credit: Evening Standard

UK Politics: Turbulent week puts PM’s leadership back in frame

The Conservative Party’s relative calm has come to an abrupt end after almost a month.

Boris Johnson’s premiership has been resurrected following the reappearance of Partygate.

A misinterpretation of his MPs’ mood has raised suspicions about the new No 10 operation, causing a fast retreat over plans to defer a parliamentary investigation into whether he misled them.

Boris Johnson is in trouble, according to one former cabinet minister, who expects that following the local elections on May 5, many Conservative MPs will file letters of no confidence.

Allies of Prime Minister David Cameron expected a little difficult couple of days this week as he addressed Parliament for the first time since his fine for attending a No. 10 lockdown party.

However, Mr Johnson’s week was made considerably more difficult by two unexpected developments.

To begin with, this week showed that when focus returns to Partygate, it still has the power to engulf the prime minister – even while the war in Ukraine remains the most pressing concern.

Second, the new government whips’ office failed to recognise the gravity of the backbench revolt against their efforts to derail an early probe into the prime minister’s parliamentary response.

On Tuesday night, just hours after apologising to the Commons for his police fine, Prime Minister David Cameron addressed his parliamentary party.

Critics’ snide remarks can be dismissed.

But once they’re out of the way – and critics can’t be blamed for hurting the party’s electoral chances – many expect another attack on Prime Minister David Cameron.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s friends are praising him as a possible leader. One ally claims that support for a candidate untainted by Boris Johnson is growing.

Johnson’s supporters, on the other hand, believe he is safe.

One loyal minister, who thought Mr Johnson was in serious jeopardy during a tumultuous period earlier this year, believes Mr Johnson has strengthened his position this week by responding so quickly to avoid a backbench revolt.

Some backbenchers’ sniping at Boris Johnson will undoubtedly continue indefinitely.

Only time will tell if it spreads beyond the typical suspects who have never forgiven Boris Johnson for becoming Prime Minister.