Skip to content
Boris Johnson has apologized twice in two days for breaking the law.  Now what?

Under normal circumstances, that would mean the time was up for the Prime Minister and his term. But Johnson has so far refused to step down from office and, with no general election due before 2024, his fate will ultimately be determined by his own Tory MPs, the only people who can prematurely impeach him.

For now, they seem content that he remains in Downing Street despite poll after poll showing the public thinks he should quit. Johnson is embroiled in his premiership’s worst ever crisis after police fined him for breaking Covid-19 laws by attending a 2020 birthday rally held in his honor at his office, at the height of the lockdown.

The Conservative Party polls don’t look too good either, although party sources believe that overall Johnson is still more of an electoral asset than a problem. They are aware that this could change if Johnson is given another fine by police or if more details emerge from the so-called ‘Partygate’ scandal.

What this means in the medium term is that Johnson simply needs to keep going and avoid the various pitfalls directly in front of him – something his allies note he has managed to do so far and can continue to do.

The first such pitfall comes on Thursday, when MPs will be able to vote on a motion tabled by opposition parties that would refer the prime minister to a parliamentary committee to investigate his conduct.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, said: “We urge Tory MPs to do the right thing. To respect the sacrifices their constituents have made during the pandemic.”

Johnson, who has a sizeable parliamentary majority, is expected to survive the vote, but Labor sources are quietly advising that the motion will be politically toxic for Johnson anyway. If Tory MPs vote against holding the inquiry, Labor can step into their shoes at the next election and underline that they voted to shield the Prime Minister from scrutiny.

And there will be another test in just a few weeks: local elections will be held across the country on May 5. While it won’t remove Johnson from office, the election will be an opportunity for voters to send a message of fury directly to Downing. Street.

While the Conservatives suffered huge declines in several polls ahead of the election, observers believe it would take a dramatic defeat for Johnson’s lawmakers to commit political regicide against Johnson. But it’s not out of the question — and those who have seriously considered removing the prime minister see the summer as the best time to get rid of him, as it would give a new leader plenty of time to settle in the post before the next general election.

After these elections, the pitfalls are a little more difficult to predict. At any time, Johnson could be fined again for further gatherings held in Downing Street that allegedly broke his own government’s laws. And a senior civil servant’s final report on the Partygate scandal could be so damning that Tory poll numbers plummet even further.

However, for now, Johnson remains in his post, unwilling to resign and no one is strong enough to force him to leave. It’s frustrating for those who want him gone, but politics simply make it impossible to get rid of Johnson in the immediate future. Whether that’s a good thing for Johnson and his party is another matter altogether – and there are Labor figures who think Johnson fighting for the next general election would be preferable to a new, more credible alternative.

cnn Eur