Live: UK’s Johnson says ‘no’ to quitting amid intensifying calls for him to go
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Boris Johnson on Wednesday pledged to fight on against snowballing pressure to resign as British prime minister, but his defiance was met with yet more ministerial resignations and derision from a growing number of his own Conservative PMs. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
4:49pm: UK markets shrug off new political drama but brace for more
British markets on Wednesday braced for more political drama as Johnson was rocked by further ministerial resignations and calls for him to go, although traders were reluctant to take new positions given the uncertainty.
Bookmakers have slashed odds on Johnson’s imminent departure — Betfair has a 96 percent chance of him leaving before end-2022 — and analysts said markets had largely priced in his exit after a series of scandals, including accusations that he breached his own Covid lockdown rules, weakened his authority.
The pound dropped to more than two-year lows but the moves were largely driven by a broad-based rally in the dollar as investors — worried about rising recession risks — looked for safety.
4:40pm: Junior minister Rachel Maclean becomes yet another to resign
Britain’s minister for safeguarding Rachel Maclean resigned from her post on Wednesday, becoming the latest government official to step down in protest at Johnson’s leadership.
4:38pm: ‘Tap on the shoulder’ from senior Tories ‘doesn’t work’ on Johnson
Conservative Party rules mean a leader cannot face more than one vote of no confidence within a year, and Johnson won the vote in June. Hence the decision about whether or not Johnson resigns “won’t be his if enough MPs effect a change in the rules and if he then loses a no confidence motion, so those two things would have to be lined up first”, noted FRANCE 24 International Affairs Editor Armen Georgian.
“So the question of changing the rules in order to allow him to face another no confidence vote […] that’s the first thing that this backbench committee called the 1992 Committee is going to be considering,” Georgian continued.
“It’s true that there are also senior Conservatives who have told Boris Johnson that it’s time to go, notably Michael Gove, a leading Conservative figure; a famous Brexiteer. He has reportedly told Boris Johnson that his time is up. But of course the tap on the shoulder, that worked on previous Conservative leaders but it doesn’t work on Boris Johnson,” Georgian added.
4:28pm: Johnson says no to Labour calls for snap election
Johnson rejected demands by the Labour opposition for a snap election: “I really don’t think that anybody in this country wants politicians to be engaged in electioneering now,” he told a committee of MPs. “And I think that we need to get on with serving our voters, and dealing with the issues that they care about.”
4:07pm: Five more junior ministers quit govt en masse
Five more junior ministers quit British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government en masse on Wednesday, taking the total number to 27 of Tory MPs who have resigned since Tuesday evening.
“In good faith, we must ask that, for the good of the party and the country, you step aside,” the quintet said in their letter to him, as the chorus of calls grows from within the ruling Conservatives for Johnson to resign.
4:02pm: Johnson says ‘no, no, no’ to resignation
Arriving at the Palace of Westminster for a scheduled appearance before a parliamentary committee, the prime minister responded to a question about whether he will resign by saying “no, no, no” – apparently attempting to echo Margaret Thatcher’s famous response to the idea of a European superstate in the House of Commons in 1990.
3:38pm: Key minister Gove has told Johnson to go, Daily Mail reporter says
Michael Gove, one of the most senior ministers in the British government, has told Johnson that he must quit, the deputy political editor of the Daily Mail reported.
The report said Gove had told Johnson on Wednesday morning that he needed to stand down. Gove torpedoed Johnson’s leadership bid in 2016 before he agreed to work in his government when Johnson became prime minister in 2019.
Gove is the only member of Johnson’s cabinet who was part of the Tory cabinet that took power in 2010 under then PM David Cameron in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Gove is widely seen as particularly effective at getting things done, even if he is unpopular amongst certain sections of the electorate.
3:28pm: Six further junior ministers resign
Six further junior ministers, Kemi Badenoch, Neil O’Brien, Alex Burghart, Lee Rowley, Julia Lopez and Mims Davies, resigned from Johnson’s government on Wednesday.