Although its end is far from a foregone conclusion. Contrary to what had been hoped, Tuesday’s headlines did not show him as a determined opponent of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. On the contrary: “Partygate” has Johnson firmly under control. According to many commentators, the 57-year-old is to blame for this.
Because his reply to the findings of the long-awaited internal investigation report turned into a disaster in the lower house, as his party friends also attest. Things got off to a good start, with Johnson ruefully announcing changes in style and personnel, as demanded by his Conservative Party. But then he seemed to feel too safe and resorted to the triad of his populist palette: pacify, announce, attack. The tactic has often proved its worth. This time she didn’t catch.
Because Johnson attacked the Labor Party in tone. He told opposition leader Keir Starmer that he had let pedophile BBC presenter Jimmy Savile off the hook in his previous post as chief prosecutor. The allegation has long since been refuted. Party friends also distanced themselves from the attack. Internally, it was also not well received that there is no clarity as to what is actually going to be made public from the final “Partygate” investigation. Top official Sue Gray, the internal investigator, had emphasized that her “update” presented on Monday was “extremely limited” due to police investigations.
There is talk of leadership failure
But even what is written on the published twelve pages is dangerous for Johnson. There is talk of leadership failure, of serious failure to comply with rules. Gray has identified 16 meetings where corona rules could have been broken. Only in four of them do the police see no criminal offenses – but in some cases in which Johnson was present.
Acting prime minister targeted by the police
An incumbent prime minister targeted by the police – that’s historic. Johnson does not contribute to transparency, he blocks. After weeks of refusing to comment, referring to Gray’s investigations, he now answers like an automaton: Please wait for the police investigations. The unrest within the Tories is great. “Boris Johnson runs a modern government like a medieval court,” Tory influential Andrew Mitchell complained on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday.
Because of the debate on the “Partygate” report, the prime minister had to postpone a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The head of the Kremlin then spoke longer with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday – of all people. The affair paralyzes the British government, the Conservative Party appears torn.
Only a few top politicians defend their boss publicly. In fact, many continue to support Johnson. They see him as the best campaigner, praise him as the super election winner of 2019, as the man who achieved Brexit and made a rapid vaccination campaign possible. The 54 votes required for an internal party vote of no confidence are unlikely to materialize for the time being.
At a meeting on Monday evening, Johnson was apparently able to convince many MPs, as various media reports. Many are getting on the nerves of the “Partygate” affair that has been raging for months. “Let’s get on with the work,” said Tory MP Gary Sambrook. Johnson made promises that he believes. But for the prime minister, this is at most a breathing space. It will be important to deal with the result of the police investigation.
“The winner takes it all”, the winner gets everything – Abba’s famous song is said to have echoed through Johnson’s official Downing Street apartment at one of the lockdown celebrations. But many Tories no longer see their leader as a winner. Another classic would be more appropriate: “Should I stay or should I go” by The Clash. It says: “If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double.” Translated: If the Tories throw Johnson out, the party will be thrown into violent turbulence. If they hold on to him, the trouble could be twice as big.