UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned yesterday from an overseas tour to face multiple crises, including the latest resignation of a senior Conservative from his scandal-hit government.
The embattled leader found his ruling Tories mired in another controversy about sexual impropriety shortly after he landed back in Britain on Thursday from a Nato summit in Spain.
In a letter to Johnson, Conservative MP Chris Pincher announced he was quitting as deputy chief whip after admitting he drank “far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people” late Wednesday.
Reports said he had been accused of groping at the exclusive Carlton Club in London, prompting complaints to the Conservatives.
His departure from its whips’ office - charged with enforcing party discipline and standards - marks the latest allegation of sexual misconduct by Tories in recent months.
Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned in April after watching pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons, prompting a by-election in his previously safe seat which the party went on to lose in a historic victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.
Johnson himself has been embroiled in various scandals, including the so-called “Partygate” affair that led his own lawmakers to trigger a no-confidence vote in him in early June that he narrowly survived.
The 58-year-old still faces a parliamentary probe into whether he lied to MPs over the lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street.
The controversies come with Britain battling a worsening cost-of-living crisis and a summer of strikes by various unions over wages and working conditions. Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to adapt to Brexit and is risking a possible trade war with the European Union by unilaterally overhauling the special deal it agreed with the bloc for Northern Ireland.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that Britain’s trade performance this year has fallen to its worst level since records began, adding to the pound’s recent slide.
A growing chorus of critics argue Johnson’s government is too distracted by its own woes to focus on these mounting challenges.
“We’ve got a problem on trade, (a) problem on Northern Ireland, a problem with labour shortages, the pound’s significantly devalued, business investment is down,” former Labour prime minister Tony Blair told the BBC late Thursday.
“I think it is incoherent and it’s also not thought-through and the reason for that is the government’s in survival mode — they’re not thinking about what’s the right long-term plan for Britain’s future.” Johnson returned home after nine days of globetrotting that saw him attend three international summits, including a Commonwealth gathering in Rwanda and G7 meeting in Germany.
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