The supposed resignation of Boris Johnson comes as a bit of a surprise to many observers – they felt that he wasn’t going to go voluntarily. But with an all time record of ministers resigning from his government, to the point where government business had to be suspended, there wasn’t much in the way of choice.
The funny thing is the number of misconceptions floating around about his resignation. I’m no constitutional lawyer (although I do at least know that the UK does in fact have a written constitution), but here’s some corrections :-
- He hasn’t resigned as the UK’s Prime Minister, or we would have a new one by now – the House of Commons would nominate and the Queen would appoint. This is distinct from his place as the leader of the Tory party.
- He may have resigned as leader of the Tory party, or potentially indicated his intention to resign once a new leader has been nominated and elected. In theory, he could simply refuse to stand down as Prime Minister – his position as PM is not directly contingent on his being the leader of the Tory party.
- The House of Commons could have a confidence motion to force the resignation of the PM or the dissolution of parliament forcing a general election. That hasn’t happened so far but may happen next week. In normal circumstances there is no chance of a government with a majority of MPs would lose such a motion, but these aren’t ordinary circumstances. And Tory MPs may feel that removing a rogue PM is more important than the risk to their seats in an early general election; certainly you could expect them to vote in the interests of their country. Although if Tories really are self-centred sociopaths who are more interested in covering their arses than the good of the country then such a motion of no confidence will fail.
- All the noise about the 1922 Committee is about the Tory party and selecting its leader – it has nothing to do with the government.
In all likelihood, Johnson will remain the PM whilst the Tories select a new leader – quite possibly sooner than the autumn even though Johnson is hoping for autumn. And the new leader will be worse than Johnson – Johnson is a lazy fool and his replacement will want to make their mark.