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Is this the end of Boris Johnson?

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Boris Johnson is out of British political life for the first time in more than 20 years after announcing on Friday that he’s giving up his parliamentary seat and resigning from the House of Commons effective immediately.

Johnson took this preemptive step after seeing the results of Parliament’s privilege committee investigation that accused him of lying to parliament over the “partygate” scandal. The committee comprised of four Conservative and three Labour MPs was reportedly set to recommend that the former PM be banned from the chamber for 20 days – though the report has not yet been made public.

This recommendation would have led to a by-election if 10% of voters in Johnson’s constituency backed the move. Given Johnson’s deep unpopularity, this was all but a sure thing, and he quit in a huff – decrying the “witch hunt” on his way out – rather than risk being shown the door.

It’s a startling fall from grace for a man who, in 2019, inherited the biggest parliamentary majority since the 1970s, only to squander it by breaking his own COVID lockdown rules and lying about it repeatedly. Still, Johnson has left open the possibility of another political run, though he would have to find a new seat to run in. (His current seat will almost certainly flip to Labour.)

What does this mean for the Conservative Party? PM Rishi Sunak, a Johnson rival, said that he backs the parliamentary committee’s work. But even though Sunak will undoubtedly be glad to see the back of Johnson’s shaggy head, this drama – Johnson called the committee a “kangaroo court” – is a distraction the PM doesn’t want, particularly after he’s spent the past year trying to convince voters that the days of petty Tory Party infighting are over.

What’s more, two other Tory MPs and Johnson allies also resigned Friday over a separate matter, meaning that the Conservative Party will now face three tough by-elections next month.

This development, however, is unlikely to have a significant impact on broader politics considering that the Labour Party is pummeling the Tories in the polls and is expected to maintain this edge in the lead-up to next year’s election.


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