A common mistake when betting on the political future of Boris Johnson is to calculate his chances as if he were a thoroughbred at the Ascot races, and not like the Russian roulette that is the most surprising and unpredictable conservative politician of recent decades. And even so, the betting company Betfair does not go beyond 1.8 this Wednesday in what it would pay to those who put their money that the prime minister will not survive until the end of the year. It is a forecast that, apparently, is obvious. Or not.
The first thing that Johnson suggested to the group of deputies with which he was meeting when Rishi Sunak, his until then Minister of the Economy, announced his resignation, was that it would now be easier to lower taxes. It is no secret to anyone that, in recent months, the tension between the two politicians was constant: the prime minister aspired to get out of his political entanglements with more spending promises; Sunak saw the horizon of inflation and tried to maintain some fiscal discipline. And the man chosen in the last hours to head the country’s accounts, Nadhim Zahawi, has already said, in his first interviews with the British media, that “nothing is ruled out” when it comes to tax cuts. “The most important thing is to rebuild the economy in this post-pandemic period, and get us to grow again. And with lower taxes”, he told SkyNews the new rising star of the British Conservatives. For the time being, Zahawi has already indicated that he could reverse the increase planned for next April in Corporate Tax, which was going to be from 19% to 25%. All a nod to businessmen, in search of their support.
“And when the post of prime minister becomes vacant, will you aspire to fill it?” asked the chain’s journalist. “That position is not vacant”, Zahawi has tried to settle, although the name of this successful businessman, British of Iraqi origin, and the politician responsible for the vaccination program – one of the few successes of the Johnson Government – has been for months. in the pools.
Along with the resignations of the two ministers, there has been a small cascade of minor charges. In the British government ladder, the so-called private parliamentary secretaries are those deputies who act as a link between Parliament and a minister. They are the ultimate rank (called derogatorily bag carriers, those who carry the briefcase to the minister), but their resignations add noise and tension to the crisis. In the last hours five have resigned.
A different case is that of Will Quince, Deputy Secretary of State for Families (third in the ranking, after the minister and the Secretary of State), who resigned this Wednesday. Fifteen was one of the politicians sent out by the Johnson Government through the media to defend the prime minister’s role in the pincher case with false information supplied by Downing Street. The sex scandal surrounding this deputy, and the way in which Johnson has lied about what he knew before deciding to appoint him number two in the Conservative parliamentary group, has further irritated the mood of many critics of the premiere.
This Wednesday, the British Prime Minister will face a Labor opposition that is already openly calling for new elections and is spreading the shadow of corruption over the entire Conservative Party. The most relevant, however, will be the degree of support, of the fuss, of cries of support, in the bench of theirs. And nothing suggests that Johnson will have it easy. Much more complicated will be, at half past two in the afternoon (half past three, Spanish peninsular time), his appearance before the Interrelations Commission of the House of Commons. The body that brings together the presidents of the various parliamentary committees convenes the Prime Minister twice a year to supervise the work of the Government. The deputies present are heavyweights, and among them there are several conservatives willing to put Johnson on the spot.
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The ranks of the Conservatives in Westminster are beginning to fill with figures of great weight – the resigned ministers, Sunak and Javid; but also Johnson’s historical rival, Jeremy Hunt―with time to spare, and contacts to conspire and prepare the final blow. According to the rules of the conservative parliamentary group, a new internal censure motion to try to unseat the prime minister cannot be held until a year after the previous one, which was in early June. But the rules can be changed with a simple majority, or with a change in group leadership.
Johnson hardened his position on the Northern Ireland Protocol and on Brexit to then gain the support of eurosceptics and save his neck. He now trusts that the promise of a tax reduction will encourage the more liberal conservative deputies, who see the new recession coming and need to offer concrete results to their voters. But with the economic outlook so bleak, and the enormous degree of irritation in the Conservative ranks, it is difficult even to predict whether the Prime Minister will be able to last the two weeks remaining until the British Parliament’s summer recess.