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Last week, I reviewed two different video series about WWII — one a fictional TV show and the other a documentary series. Tina reviewed The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths, a novel that mixes mystery with archaeology.
I had an entirely different post written for today, but I’ll save that for another Friday.
Today, I’ll share what I learned about the Prime Minister’s resignation yesterday.
I’ve been paying less attention to British news recently, although I knew about “Partygate” — the scandal around parties that Boris Johnson attended during government-imposed COVID lockdowns. That kind of behavior will irritate anyone’s sense of fair play.
That was old news, although it may have played into the mood that brought Johnson down so quickly in recent days.
The straw that broke the camel’s back centers on a man named Chris Pincher.
Pincher resigned from a previous government position in 2017 due to well-publicized accusations of sexual harassment of young men. A Conservative party investigation cleared him of breaking party rules and Theresa May’s government appointed Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip. In July 2019, Boris Johnson appointed him as a foreign minister for Europe and the Americas. Since then, there have been continued accusations while Pincher has been appointed to various positions in Johnson’s government. Most recently, Pincher was again made deputy party whip in February 2022.
Last week, on June 30, Pincher resigned, again, after being accused of groping two men at a party the night before. Pincher admitted to drinking “far too much” at that party.
Questions about the appointment of Chris Pincher
That’s when people started asking questions about why Boris Johnson appointed Pincher in the first place. Like many government scandals in the US, it’s the cover-up that gets you in trouble. Boris Johnson made various successive statements that didn’t hold up under scrutiny, each one falling to the facts. He didn’t know about the accusations. He didn’t know of any serious accusations. He didn’t know of any proven allegations.
A tweet from Johnson’s former Chief of Staff, Dominic Cummings, pretty much killed those lines of lies. He claimed that Johnson laughingly referred to the man as “pincher by name pincher by nature.”
That’s when the resignations started happening. In the UK, even more than in the US, government cabinet members and others on the Prime Minister’s staff are expected to be loyal to the Prime Minister.
Staff members felt that they were lied to with those successive changing statements. They had unwittingly told lies based on those statements.
As Savid Javid, the newly resigned UK Health Secretary, said in his statement in Parliament on Wednesday, “Treading the tightrope between loyalty and integrity has become impossible in recent months.”
In a parliamentary system, the leader of the majority party (or a coalition of parties, if there is no one majority party) is also the Prime Minister. Johnson has resigned as leader of the party, but he expected to stay on as a caretaker Prime Minister until his successor is chosen.
How long will that take? Theresa May announced her resignation on May 24 in 2019 and left the office to Boris Johnson on July 24.
Former Prime Minister John Major, however, said that Boris Johnson should be ousted immediately, and another caretaker Prime Minister be put into place while the process of choosing a new leader plays out over the next few months. This article from The Guardian says that’s an unprecedented move in UK government, although the idea has garnered a lot of support.
I’ll list the best resources I found while trying to figure out this fast-moving story yesterday.
This timeline from a publication called The Scottish Farmer helped me get an understanding of Pincher’s behaviors and his political career.
This video from TLDRNews (made before the PM’s resignation) gave a good overview of the Pincher case and the resignations from Johnson’s government:
This video from the Wall Street Journal was a good quick review of Boris Johnson’s career:
Were you following this story? Did I miss anything interesting?