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In the midst of a controversy, British PM Boris Johnson tries to maintain authority

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks outside 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, was trying to maintain his authority on Friday after a senior adviser resigned over a bogus claim that the leader of the opposition Labour Party had failed to pursue a prominent child sex offender.

The news: Johnson has declined to resign despite reports that he and several of his staff attended Downing Street parties during COVID lockdowns. Johnson gained the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher in 2019.

  • These discoveries have cast doubt on Johnson’s typically erratic leadership style, posing the greatest threat to his presidency since he entered office. They come after a slew of previous controversies.
  • Johnson recognised that issues at the core of Downing Street, which functions as both his residence and the nerve centre of the British state, needed to be addressed.
  • Munira Mirza, Johnson’s head of policy, resigned on Thursday in response to Johnson’s accusation that Labour leader Keir Starmer refused to prosecute paedophile Jimmy Savile during his term as director of public prosecutions (DPP).

What they’re saying: Rishi Sunak, Johnson’s finance minister, stated emphatically that he would not have made such a remark. Johnson’s remark has been portrayed by Starmer as a ludicrous slur – and a conspiracy theory – that proves Johnson is unsuitable to govern the United Kingdom.

  • Ministers touted three more resignations following Mirza as proof that Johnson was “taking charge” and fixing the problems at Downing Street, despite the fact that there was still a lot of hostility directed against him inside his own party.
  • “I’m deeply troubled by what’s going on,” Huw Merriman, a Conservative lawmaker who chairs the transport select committee, told BBC radio.
  • Merriman stated that if a prime minister did not change, he would be forced to resign, and that many Conservative voters were disappointed and grieved by recent events at the top levels of the British government.
  • According to the editor of the Conservative Home website, a member of Johnson’s policy section also resigned on Friday. Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment right away.

Facts and figures: While opposition parties and some of Johnson’s own parliamentarians have called for him to resign, there is worry that toppling a British leader at this time would damage the West as it prepares for a possible military conflict in Ukraine.

  • With inflation at its highest level in 30 years, public dissatisfaction with the government is certain to grow ahead of the May municipal elections.
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak, 41, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 46, are two of the Conservative Party’s most powerful competitors.
  • Fifty-five of the 360 Conservative MPs in parliament must sign letters of no confidence to the chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee to initiate a leadership challenge.
  • A YouGov poll taken on Jan. 31 found that 63 per cent of people wanted Johnson to quit, but another YouGov poll found that only 31 per cent thought he would.

Asked what was going on in Downing Street, junior energy minister Greg Hands told Sky: “Resignations have been made, resignations have been accepted.”

“This is the prime minister taking charge,” he said.

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