Is it the End for Boris Johnson?



On June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom voted by referendum, 52 to 48 percent, to leave the European Union. This event has come to be known as “Brexit.” 


For many years, a faction of the British Conservative Party, along with others, had been advocating for a withdrawal from the European Union. In an attempt to put the matter to rest in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to hold a referendum on European Union membership. Mr. Cameron, and many others in government at the time, supported staying in the European Union. Prominent political figures such as Mayor of London and Member of Parliament Boris Johnson, supported leaving the European Union. Unfortunately for Mr. Cameron, the results of the referendum were not as he had expected, and he resigned soon after.

Theresa May, a supporter of the “remain” campaign, won the election and became Prime Minister on July 13, 2019. Unfortunately for May, her tenure was marked by multiple failed attempts at negotiating a deal for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union that both the EU and Parliament could agree to. After three years, she too resigned and left office on July 24th, 2019.

Boris Johnson became the frontrunner to take over after May’s resignation, and after winning the Conservative Party’s leadership election, he became the next Prime Minister. Johnson called an election for December 12th, 2019, campaigning to “get Brexit done,” and he was able to win a majority in Parliament. The United Kingdom finally left the European Union on January 31st, 2020. 


Soon after, like much of the rest of the world, the United Kingdom went into lockdown due to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 


In late 2021, allegations emerged that members of the government, along with Johnson, had held parties and gatherings while the United Kingdom was enduring some of its strictest pandemic restrictions. These allegations especially enraged the public because some of these alleged parties were said to have been held during Christmas, while the rest of the United Kingdom was not permitted to visit their families. 


Sue Gray, a senior British civil servant who was heading the investigation into the scandal, published her report January 31st, 2022, however, the report did not contain all of the details due to ongoing police investigation. According to the report, there were numerous “failures of leadership” in Downing Street, the building that houses the offices and residence of the Prime Minister. 


The report also said that the government gave little thought to following their own lockdown rules. There were also many embarrassing findings by the report on topics that were not expected to be addressed, such as the existence of an excessive drinking culture during the pandemic, a period of time of grave importance where the government had to be in its best state. 


Although the Metropolitan Police are still investigating, the damage has still been done. Johnson’s approval rating has plummeted to 22 percent and, according to some polling firms, as many as two thirds of the British public believe that Johnson should resign. Multiple members of Parliament, even some members of his own party, have expressed their wishes for Johnson to step down. 


These allegations come at quite a crucial time for Johnson and the British government, with the threat of a Russian invasion into Ukraine causing mass panic across Europe. 


Johnson was drinking and partying with his staff while the rest of the United Kingdom was in lockdown, unable to spend the most important time of the year with their families. He has shown that he is prepared to put one rule in place for the British people and then hold himself to a different standard. Boris Johnson may have orchestrated Brexit, but now the time has come for his own exit.