Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: A timeline of the PM’s scandals

Boris Johnson stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party on Thursday after facing a deluge of government resignations.

The Prime Minister lost 60 MPs from government, ranging from cabinet ministers, junior ministers, and private parliamentary secretaries, eroding his authority and leaving the government in paralysis.

In his resignation speech, Johnson said: “I tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much and when we have such a vast mandate.

“I regret not to have been successful in those arguments and of course it’s painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself.

“As we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.”

Johnson’s critics argue the speech showed no sign of remorse, or regret, over the series of scandals that have beset his premiership since winning an 80-seat majority in the 2019 general election.

These are the biggest scandals that have afflicted Johnson over the last three years as Prime Minister.

September, 2019: Johnson’s prorogation ruled unlawful

The Supreme Court ruled that Johnson had unlawfully closed Parliament when he prorogued it for five weeks ahead of the 31st October deadline for Britain leaving the EU.

Critics say the prorogation was intended to prevent Parliament blocking a no-deal Brexit.

September 2019: Public funds to Jennifer Arcuri

Johnson was investigated by the police watchdog over his relationship with American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.

The case was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over reports that he had given Arcuri £25,000 in public funds.

The IOPC found there was no basis for criminal charges, but his failure to declare a conflict of interest with regard to his role as a public official and relationship with Arcuri may have breached the London Assembly’s Code of Conduct.

May 2020: Backs Dominic Cummings over lockdown breaches

When it became clear Johnson’s advisor Dominic Cummings had broken lockdown rules by travelling hundreds of miles from London to Durham at the height of lockdown restrictions, Johnson backed the advisor despite public outrage over the incident.

November 2020: Ignores report finding Priti Patel bullied staff

A formal investigation found that Johnson’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had bullied staff in her department and breached the ministerial code.

Johnson ignored the findings, and claimed he had full confidence in Patel.

It led to Johnson’s ethics advisor, Sir Alex Allen, to quit with indignation.

April 2021: Downing Street flat refurbishment

Johnson was accused by his former advisor Dominic Cummings, of trying to encourage Tory donors to pay for a £112,000 refurbishment of his official flat over No 11.

After an inquiry, Johnson’s ethics advisor Lord Geidt cleared Johnson of any responsibility, accepting he had not been aware of what was going on.

October 2021: Backs MP who lobbied for companies he was paid by

Johnson backed Owen Paterson, Tory MP for North Shropshire after the House of Commons Standards Committee found he had breached rules on paid lobbying.

It was found that Paterson had repeatedly lobbied for two companies that paid him more than £100,000 a year.

Paterson resigned, and Johnson withdrew his support only after public outrage.

April 2022: Fined for breaking lockdown laws

On 12 April, Johnson was fined £50 by police for attending a party in Downing Street in May 2020, becoming the first British prime minister found to have broken the law while in office.

June 2022: Anti-corruption advisor resigns

John Penrose, Tory MP for Weston, Worle & The Villages, resigned as Johnson’s anti-corruption Tsar over claims the Prime Minister had breached the ministerial code over failing to provide adequate leadership throughout the Partygate scandals.

June 2022: Ethics advisor resigns

Johnson’s second ethics advisor, Lord Geidt, resigned over a government plan he denounced as a flagrant breach of the ministerial code.

It has been suggested the plan was concerned with protectionist steel tariffs and potential breaches of international law.

June 2022: Deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher, faces allegations of sexual assault

Chris Pincher, MP for Tamworth, resigned as deputy chief whip over allegations he had groped men at the Carlton Club, a Tory private members’ club in London.

Downing Street stuck to the line that Johnson was unaware of Pincher’s behaviour when he appointed him as deputy chief whip, but it later emerged the Prime Minister had known about similar allegations as far back as 2019.

Johnson was forced to apologise but claimed he had forgotten about the allegations over Pincher’s conduct.

This final scandal was the catalyst for Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s resignations, leading to 60 resignations from government in under 48 hours, and Johnson’s resignation.

Featured image credit: Number 10 via Flickr under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

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