Boris Johnson ascended to the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 2019 after the resignation of Theresa May based in part on the promise that he would get the UK out of the European Union by October of that year.
Two years later, the UK is still negotiating much of what Brexit means, and the scandal that has erupted after reports of a raucous party at 10 Downing Street (the prime minister’s residence) in May 2020 while most of Britain was under severe lockdowns led to Monday’s vote of confidence in Johnson’s leadership.
Johnson survived that vote, but it wasn’t exactly a slam dunk. May faced a similar confidence vote in 2019, won with better margins than Johnson received, and resigned a few months later. (May reportedly even wore a ball gown to Monday’s confidence vote.) Johnson is more tenacious than May, so he may hang on longer, but one of the leading voices behind Brexit thinks that Johnson could sabotage the UK’s break with the EU.
Nigel Farage, who hosts a show on GB News, told the network that he believes that Johnson’s surviving the confidence vote could lead to a general election, which he believes that Johnson and the Conservative Party, also called the Tories, would lose.
For some context, the British political system is much different from ours in that the government can call a general election at any time, and the leader of the party that elects the most representatives to Parliament becomes prime minister. Many political experts in the UK believe that the Labour Party stands to defeat the Conservatives handily if an election took place soon.
Jamie Micklethwaite reports at GB News that “Farage highlighted an interview where Keir Starmer called for returning Britain to the single market,” the economic aspect of European Union membership, “and claimed the Liberal Democrats and the SNP [Scottish National Party] want to do the same thing.”
The Liberal Democrats and SNP are smaller, center-left parties who caucus with Labour most of the time.
“This could, he believe, [sic] lead to Britain gradually rejoining the European Union,” Micklethwaite points out.
Meanwhile, Johnson is looking to alter the Brexit deal, and it might leave Tories upset with their leader.
Bloomberg reports that “Boris Johnson plans to press ahead with legislation giving him the power to override parts of the Brexit deal, three people familiar with the matter said, a move likely to anger some of his MPs [Members of Parliament] and the European Union.”
Johnson may seek to back away from some of the “more controversial” aspects of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. One thing Johnson wants to do is to leave Northern Ireland, part of the UK, in the EU’s single market while keeping England, Scotland, and Wales separate from the EU. Many Conservatives aren’t happy about that, and it could fracture Johnson’s support within his party.
“One risk for Johnson is that the plan could exacerbate Tory divisions, Bloomberg reports. “While taking a hard line with the EU plays with the Brexiteer wing of his party, ripping up the deal Johnson agreed with the bloc is a red line for some MPs.”
“My fear is if we finish up with Boris Johnson staying as leader if we finish up with a coalition, it could even be a minority government led by [Labour Party leader] Keir Starmer after the next election, he’ll get support by some of the Conservative benches and we’ll get dragged back into the EU single market,” Farage lamented.
“I never thought I’d sit here and say that Brexit could be in peril, I now believe that it could be,” he added.
Keep an eye on what’s going on with Johnson and Parliament. The next few weeks could get interesting.