Knives are out as an inquiry into lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street pushes fellow conservatives to move against Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have crossed a political Rubicon in recent days over charges that he lied about Downing Street parties during the pandemic. But whether he is forced out of power could depend on whether one of his fellow Conservatives is ready to play the role of Brutus, the New York Times reports.

As Britain’s political establishment waits for the results of an internal investigation of the parties, a key question is whether it will trigger a rebellion against Mr. Johnson, and if so, who would make the first move against him?

There is no shortage of candidates, from the ambitious chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to the crowd-pleasing foreign secretary, Liz Truss. But the tactics and timing of a leadership challenge are fiendishly tricky, and few forget the old British maxim, “He who wields the knife never wears the crown.”

That may explain the uneasy lull that has settled over Westminster since last week, when Mr. Johnson was forced to apologize for social gatherings in Downing Street that breached lockdown restrictions. His allies and rivals alike are waiting to see how damaging the investigation will be, how badly the Conservative Party has slipped in the polls, and whether a political king slayer emerges.

“It’s easy to judge these things looking back but very hard looking forward,” said Robert Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester. The dilemma, he said, was particularly acute for Mr. Sunak, who leads the polls of Conservative Party members and is Mr. Johnson’s most plausible replacement.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse