Politics

The scandals threatening to bring down Boris Johnson

The prime minister is facing calls to resign over the Downing Street Christmas party scandal. But that's not the only reason he's under increasing pressure.

Boris Johnson. Picture by Tim Hammond / No 10 Downing Street.

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson. The Downing Street Christmas party scandal is refusing to go away, so too the sleaze scandal thanks to fresh revelations about his home makeover. The prime minister is even facing fierce opposition from within his own party over the latest Covid restrictions, while opposition MPs are calling for him to resign.

Now, latest polling shows Labour has a healthy lead over the Conservatives and there are reports of leadership challenges being readied.

Here’s why Johnson has his work cut out at the moment.

Partygate

Controversy over the reported Downing Street party last Christmas has entered its second week after the release of an explosive ITV News video showing Boris Johnson’s staffers joking about the alleged bash. Allegra Stratton, his former adviser, resigned over the matter, and now there are reports of up to SEVENTEEN parties taking place on the prime minister’s watch last year.

A host of opposition MPs are calling for the prime minister to resign over the matter.

Labour leader Keir Starmer hasn’t quite gone that far.

For a full breakdown of how events unfolded, take a look at our timeline

Wallpapergate

There is also new evidence suggesting that the prime minister was, in fact, aware of the renovations that happened at Number 11 that cost over £90,0000 – far greater than the £30,000 annual allowance for upkeep from the taxpayer. 

Back in spring, The Daily Mail ran a series of reports about who footed the bill for overrunning costs of the makeover of the Johnson family’s home. It was the £840-a-roll wallpaper that really sparked the ire of the public.

Standards adviser Lord Geidt was tasked with investigating the renovations, and found that while there were ‘significant failings’, the ministerial code had not been broken. This is because, according to Lord Geidt’s report, the PM wasn’t aware of “either the fact or the method of the costs of refurbishing the apartment having been paid” until late February 2021.

However a newly released Electoral Commission report found that the prime minister sent a WhatsApp message to Lord Brownlow – the sole donor behind the luxury refurbishment – in November 2020, asking for more money. Labour’s Angela Rayner has written to Lord Geidt about the inconsistencies, saying either Johnson knew that Lord Brownlow was funding the work and failed to declare it, or, he didn’t know who the gift was from but accepted it anyway. 

Labour is calling for the investigation to be reopened, and for the WhatsApp messages to be published. 

His own MPs are rebelling over new Covid restrictions

Boris Johnson faces a rebellion next week with more than 50 Tory MPs expected to vote against his plans to bring in vaccine passports as part of the “plan B” Covid measures. It could be the biggest Commons revolt of his time as prime minister.

Some Tory MPs think that the number of rebels could be closer to 100, and one senior Tory MP has said Johnson had lost the support of his party on the issue, reports The Times.

Public approval is plummeting

The Conservatives have slumped to their worst poll rating in 11 months according to a new poll by YouGov for The Times

Labour now has a four-point lead over the Conservatives, its biggest since the country was in the middle of the winter lockdown in January. 

Boris Johnson’s own approval ratings have sunk to record lows according to a poll conducted by Opinium which found nearly half of UK voters thought the prime minister and his party to be “corrupt” in the wake of the MP’s second jobs scandal.

Two thirds of Brits now have an unfavourable opininion of Boris Johnson, according to recent YouGov polling, and of Conservative voters, it’s 41 per cent.

One senior Tory told The Times: “This is the beginning of the end. That end might not be for a long time. But it’s a problem, it’s starting to stick. No.10’s credibility is shot.”

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