United Kingdom | Boris Johnson fires one of his ministers

(London) Boris Johnson on Wednesday sacked his housing minister, Michael Gove, who, according to British media, was urging the British prime minister to resign, an aide to the head of government said.

Posted at 12:01
Updated at 4:58 p.m

Sylvain PEUCHMAURD
Media Agency France

“He has sacked Michael Gove,” James Duddridge, adviser to Boris Johnson, told Sky News, assuring the latter “is in high spirits and will fight”.

Despite an avalanche of departures from his government, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday dismissed calls for his resignation in a bid to engage his faithful, despite the unprecedented crisis into which repeated scandals have plunged him.

Far from the triumph of his 2019 Downing Street debut on a pledge to deliver Brexit, the Conservative leader faced the toughest day of his tenure on Wednesday, hemmed in by embarrassing cases and their barrage of lying allegations.

Several senior ministers, including loyal ones, have urged him to resign as the situation has become untenable, according to British media. Among those named are Home Secretary Priti Patel or Nadhim Zahawi, less than 24 hours after his appointment as Treasury Secretary.

But, as he had done before MPs earlier in the day, he replied that he wanted to stay to attend to “the vitally important problems” facing the country, according to the press.

“We will proceed with the governance of this country,” Boris Johnson told heads of parliamentary committees in the afternoon, shortly after saying he had had a “tremendous” week.

Without warning, Health Minister Sajid Javid and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak slammed the door on Tuesday night, triggering the bleeding. Other lower-ranking government officials, in turn, have successively thrown in the towel. At the end of the day, the number of departures is close to 40.

Boris Johnson remained combative. He judged that in the current context between the purchasing power crisis and the war in Ukraine, he was not “responsible” for relinquishing power.

Earlier, during the weekly question-and-answer session before MPs, which was punctuated by laughter and loud jeers, Boris Johnson said the “enormous mandate” given to him by voters in 2019 gave him a duty to ” to carry on”.

Opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer slammed a “pathetic spectacle” at the end of the government, while Scottish nationalist SNP leader in the House of Commons Ian Blackford called for snap general elections. An idea that Boris Johnson flatly rejected.

“Bye Boris”

The resigning ministers addressed sharp words to the head of government and questioned his honesty.

Speaking to MPs, Sajid Javid explained the reasons behind his departure, confident Boris Johnson would not change: “That’s enough,” he started, before some MPs launched a sneering “Bye Boris” from the One Two.

The resignation of Mr Javid and his finance colleague was announced on Tuesday night just as Boris Johnson had apologized following a new scandal.

Mr Johnson admitted he made a “mistake” in appointing Chris Pincher to his government in February, the “whip” deputy boss responsible for parliamentary discipline for Conservative MPs. The latter resigned last week after being accused of touching two men.

After claims to the contrary were made, Downing Street admitted on Tuesday that the Prime Minister had been briefed on old allegations against Mr Pincher back in 2019 but had “forgotten” about them.

“Integrity” in question

For Mr Javid, 52, Britons have the right to expect “integrity from their government”.

Boris Johnson quickly replaced the two resignations by appointing his education minister Nadhim Zahawi for finance and Steve Barclay, previously responsible for government coordination, for health. But since then, departures have multiplied.

According to a Savanta ComRes poll released on Wednesday, 72% of Britons believe the Prime Minister should resign.

Mr Johnson, already significantly weakened by the Downing Street illegal partying scandal during the COVID-19 pandemic, survived a no-confidence vote from his own camp a few weeks ago.

But according to the British press, the anti-Johnson are maneuvering behind the scenes to quickly enable a new vote by changing the current rule, which protects the PM for another 11 months. On Monday, the election of the board of the powerful “1922 Committee” must take place, which is responsible for clarifying the issue.

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