There’s something mysterious and mysterious about the Conservative Party’s internal mechanisms for removing its prime minister, but when it executes, it unleashes a political quake with the first force. Boris Johnson is currently in limbo. So far, only half a dozen conservative deputies have publicly called for their resignation, but there’s no telling how many more you could do in the coming days, and whether they’re enough to put an impeachment mechanism in motion.
After half an apology in the House of Commons, his admission that he was at the Downing Street Forbidden Garden Party on May 20, 2020, and his lame excuse that he thought it was a business meeting, the British Prime Minister has had no choice but to grit his teeth and await the outcome of the two events that he had no control over. First of all, the deputy permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, Sue Gray, a senior official with a reputation for toughness and flawlessness, must complete an internal investigation that the Government itself has entrusted to her, and which spans up to half a year. dozens of parties in the ministry office. . Including the ones Johnson attended, and the most dangerous for his political future. The current pressure will accelerate Gray’s work, which should be completed by the end of next week. It is practically impossible for the report to be exculpatory, given the accumulation of clear evidence and, above all, the level of anger that exists among citizens, the opposition, and the Conservative Party deputies themselves. But the nuances it includes, or how far it shows those in charge, will be very important. If you lend the fuel to Johnson’s excuse that he thinks he’s headed to – obviously informal – his staff meeting, the prime minister might get his oxygen back. Especially if, at the same time, the heads of several heavyweights from his Downing Street team roll over and, more importantly, the Metropolitan Police are satisfied with the conclusions and decide to drop the case, in line with their rule not to retrospectively investigate offenses. social distancing rules. “Sue Gray’s report could be very harsh on Johnson, but if the police decide not to use it, and keep a majority of deputies on his side despite all the trouble,” said Paul Goodman, former lawmaker and director of the ConservativeHome. website, “The government may eventually restore a certain level of normality.”
For now, that hypothesis sounds too optimistic for a prime minister who is going through the most complicated crisis since he arrived on Downing Street two years ago, and who has practically been discontinued by conservative media in Britain. The atmosphere within the Conservative Party is chaotic, but there is still no faction leading the riots – as was the case with Theresa May or Margaret Thatcher – or alternative rivals are starting to emerge. Up to 26 MPs story They have publicly called, with greater or lesser intensity, for Johnson’s resignation. But that figure, which was continuously broadcast in the final hours, carried a certain trap. Of these, 20 are deputies to the Scottish Autonomous Parliament (known as Holyrood, for the palace in which it is located). To understand them well, they would be something akin to Spain’s PP deputies in the Basques or the Catalan Parliament. Led by Douglas Ross, their current leader, who has been the first to demand the prime minister’s resignation after speaking with him on the phone this Wednesday, they have an urgent need if they are to emerge from the marginalization that inhabits Scotland. politics, to put distance between them and figures like Johnson, who has a high toxic component in the autonomous region and has been key to fueling the independence discourse. At the moment of truth, neither of these regional deputies can vote on a hypothetical motion of internal condemnation to oust Johnson. Only Ross could do it, as he was also a member of the national parliament.
That is why, in that direction, the statements of Westminster deputies such as William Wragg, Roger Gale, Julian Sturdy or Caroline Nokes are so much more relevant. To their own personal anger or disillusionment with Johnson, they add a deciding factor for any politician to vote to withdraw their support: “The message I have received from voters in my constituency is that they feel disappointed and betrayed, after a great effort that involve them to comply with the rules during the pandemic”, explained Nokes on the ITV television network.
Out of all of them, only two openly acknowledged that they had sent credentials (whose translation, paradoxically, would be a “letter of withdrawal of confidence”) to the director of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady. This body, which was actually founded a year later than its name, grouped together the so-called conservative deputies backbenchers (literally, those in the back seat: those who hold no office in the government structure and are more free to vote). His leadership, according to Conservative Party statutes, was able to organize internal no-confidence motions against the then leader and prime minister. The mechanism is as follows: 15% of deputies backbenchers You must send a letter of creed to the committee so that voting on motions is activated automatically. Currently, with 360 conservative deputies, it amounts to 54 letters. When they arrived, the figure was kept a secret. That’s why the climate, facing internal rebellion, has something mysterious about it. No one can determine whether the cards collected do not exceed a handful or have been counted in the tens.
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In the current situation, many conservative lawmakers will choose to temper their anger and stop any decision, pending a report from Susan Gray. But even if it has some positive aspects for Johnson, it won’t be able to help the water get back on track if citizen irritation continues. The latest YouGov poll, earlier this week, found that 56% of Britons wanted Johnson to leave. If the number 54 cards is finally reached, voting can take place at breakneck speed. In the case of former Prime Minister Theresa May, the announcement was made on 12 December 2018. The Eurosceptic group tried to bring her down to halt her Brexit negotiations with the EU, too humbling for them. On the same day, starting at nine in the evening, the parliamentary group voted. 200 MPs support May; 117 voted against it. In 1990, under slightly different rules, Margaret Thatcher also survived, 204 votes to 152, an internal challenge. In both cases, the two prime ministers immediately gave up when they saw the strong internal opposition they faced. In fact, according to the statute, a new internal condemnation motion cannot be held within the next 12 months. That is why many of Johnson’s critics have included in their calculations the possibility that the prime minister could emerge more powerful than the coup, because what they clearly ruled out was that he resigned of his own free will.