Following the multiple scandals that have shaken British Prime Minister in recent weeks, pressure on Boris Johnson is mounting, even within his own camp. Several members of the Conservative Party have made a “complete overhaul” of his teams and methods a condition of his remaining in Downing Street.
Johnson “pledged to change his leadership style,” according to Reuters, after a report by civil servant Sue Gray deemed the ‘bring your own booze’ parties at Downing Street the result of “serious failures of leadership.”
In a muddled effort to regain control, Johnson announced a plan to reshuffle his administration, which led to the resignation of three of his closest associates on Thursday, February 3rd. Their names had all been cited in the investigations into the Downing Street parties: Boris Johnson’s chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, his principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, and finally his communications director, Jack Doyle.
The Prime Minister’s and his party’s popularity ratings continue to fall, to the point where they have fallen behind those of the Labour Party. Investigations are still underway into the informal gatherings that took place during the various lockdowns, and new revelations could be added to those already known by the British public.
Attempting to deflect the accusations in Sue Gray’s report, Johnson chose to counterattack by accusing his main political opponent, Labour party leader Keir Starmer, of complicity in a sex scandal.
This counter-offensive so displeased Munira Mirza, who had worked alongside Johnson for 15 years, that she also resigned from her post on Thursday after Johnson refused to apologise for the insinuations.
The Prime Minister accused Keir Starmer of “failing to prosecute” television host Jimmy Savile, who was accused of serial sexual abuse. Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time Savile was under investigation. He was not directly involved in the scandal but has acknowledged lapses in his department’s handling of the case. Johnson lamented Munira Mirza’s departure but did not retract the substance of his comments against Starmer—saying that many people got “very hot under the collar” and overreacted.
On Friday, February 4th, Elena Narozanski, special adviser to Johnson on women and equalities extremism, became the fifth member of Johnson’s team to resign.
This series of resignations is a testament to the climate of tension in the British Prime Minister’s entourage. These scandals take on added significance at a time when British households are facing a serious decline in their purchasing power, caused by rising energy prices and the Bank of England’s interest rate hike.