Boris Johnson once told his once all-powerful advisor Dominic Cummings – now his worst enemy – that he liked the chaos around him. He believed it was something that benefited him because he would then present himself as the great savior. But this time it is not working for him. Downing Street is going through the worst chaos since he became prime minister of the United Kingdom and the question now being asked, both outside and within his own ranks, is whether he will manage to last much longer in office.

With his authority more questioned than ever, the still “Tory” leader yesterday held a meeting with about 80 government employees pledging “to improve the way things are going to operate from now on”. He also sent a letter to his MPs promising them a “direct line” to Number 10 to “play an important role in generating ideas and debate”. But despite the script, the prevailing feeling is that of a president who has completely lost control.

In the midst of the “Partygate” scandal, the resignation of up to five senior members of his team in just two days, including his personal secretary and head of communications, leaves him in a situation of extreme vulnerability. In the meetings held yesterday with members of the British Executive, he assured that the departures were agreed as part of the restructuring he wants to carry out. Moreover, Johnson went so far as to quote one of the characters from the movie “The Lion King” to convey that “change is good”.

But the truth is that it is hard to believe him, considering that some of the letters of resignation have been extremely harsh. This is the case of Munira Mirza, the former head of policy and member of his team for more than ten years. Mirza argued that her continuity was untenable because of a comment Johnson launched in Parliament against the head of the opposition, Labour’s Keir Starmer, whom he accused without foundation of not having done enough to convict a known pedophile accused of pederasty when he was Director of Public Prosecutions in England. Yesterday, there was a fifth resignation, that of Elena Narozanski, an education expert advisor close to Mirza, who did not make public the reasons for her departure.

Despite Johnson’s efforts to overcome “Partygate”, the threat of his own party calling a confidence motion on his leadership remains over him. Some media estimate that around 20 MPs have already sent a formal request to call such a vote, which would be held if requested by at least 54 Tory MPs. The count, however, is not public, so there is great uncertainty about the real threat level.

MPs Nick Gibb and Aaron Bell were yesterday the latest to join the trickle of announcements in recent days by Tory MPs officially calling for a challenge. Johnson would lose that eventual confidence motion if at least 180 vote against him, which would remove him from the government and open a primary process among the Conservatives to appoint a successor. “I regret to say that it is difficult to see how it can be that the prime minister has told the truth,” Gibb, one of the longest-serving Conservative ministers of the past decade, said in a letter.

A member of his Cabinet assured the British newspaper “The Times” yesterday, without revealing his identity, that in his opinion the prime minister has a 50% chance of surviving at the head of the Executive. “There is a feeling that this is the end, he is falling apart,” he said.

Among the leading figures trying to hasten Johnson’s downfall is Cummings himself. His one-time adviser, who fell from grace and was fired in November 2020, is now responsible for some of the “Partygate” leaks. “Push what’s already falling,” he wrote on Twitter. “He’s done,” Cummings apostrophized.


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