AFTER three eventful and tumultuous years at 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson is getting ready to pack his bags and leave the prime ministerial residence. This is largely thanks to a rebellion within his cabinet, as ministers and senior members of the British prime minister’s Conservative Party expressed their lack of confidence in his leadership. In particular, several ethics-related controversies severely dented the maverick politician’s reputation.
These include accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour displayed by a Tory former deputy chief whip, and reports of boozy parties hosted at Number 10 while the rest of the UK was in strict lockdown during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Johnson’s legacy is likely to be mixed, as he failed to appropriately address the scandals that plagued his administration, while he also championed Brexit, his country’s messy divorce with the EU.
The supposed advantages of Brexit have yet to reach the British people, as the country’s economy tanks. While some, including former PM John Major, have called for Boris Johnson’s immediate exit from Number 10, he is likely to cling on for a few more months, until the Tories elect a new leader, and by default the new PM.
The race for the UK’s top job is on, with a number of candidates of colour reportedly vying to occupy Number 10. These include Sajid Javid, of Pakistani origin, as well as Rishi Sunak, with roots in India. Both men are said to be top contenders. Compare this apparent reflection of diversity within the Conservative Party with the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech Tory MP Enoch Powell delivered in 1968, in which he railed against mass immigration and said that the day was near when non-white people would “dominate” the UK.
The Conservative Party certainly seems to have come a long way from those dark days. However, whoever enters Number 10 will have their work cut out for them, as the UK sees its highest recession in four decades, and more economic turbulence is forecast for the days ahead.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2022