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Boris Johnson resigns from Parliament

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson abruptly resigned from his seat in Parliament on Friday, another dramatic turning point in the career of one of the country’s most flamboyant and controversial politicians.

Mr Johnson has been investigated by a House of Commons committee looking into whether he lied to Parliament about lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street during the Covid pandemic -19.

After receiving a confidential copy of their findings on Friday, he accused the committee of trying to oust him, adding: ‘They still haven’t produced any evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons “.

The committee had the power to recommend a sanction that could have resulted in Mr Johnson being forced into an election to keep his constituency just outside London – a contest he could well have lost.

Instead, the former prime minister anticipated that prospect by stepping down. His decision means there will now be a by-election in the constituency, but he says he will not contest.

Mr Johnson had made little secret of his ambition to win back the post of Prime Minister, and holding a seat in Parliament is a prerequisite for doing so. But it was unclear whether this was a permanent departure from the House of Commons for Mr Johnson, who had previously resigned a seat to become mayor of London and then returned to represent another constituency.

Mr Johnson was ousted as Prime Minister last July but he has continued to cast a shadow over British politics over the past year, putting himself at the center of disputes over his handling of the pandemic and the accounts renderings he gave to Parliament about the parties held in Downing Street during the lockdown.

Although the contents of the committee’s report are unclear, Mr Johnson’s decision suggested he would recommend a suspension of more than 10 days, which could trigger an election for his seat.

Appearing before the parliamentary committee in March, he admitted making misleading statements in parliament when he assured lawmakers there had been no breach of lockdown rules. He said he took full responsibility for the Downing Street rallies. “It was wrong, I bitterly regret it,” he said at the time.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Johnson went on the attack. “I’m not the only one who thinks a witch hunt is underway to get revenge on Brexit and ultimately reverse the result of the 2016 referendum,” he wrote. “My withdrawal is the necessary first step, and I believe there has been a concerted attempt to achieve this.”

The unexpected announcement could signal the end of a flamboyant career for a politician known for breaking the rules and ignoring standards. But it could also be just a twist in a career marked by frequent ups and downs.

“Politically he doesn’t have a lot of friends,” Jonathan Powell, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former chief of staff, said of Mr Johnson. “He has some hardcore supporters. But he doesn’t get a sympathy vote for his problems and he has no one behind him.

Mr Johnson left his options open in his statement saying he was ‘very sad to be leaving Parliament – at least for the time being’, while adding he was ‘bewildered and appalled’ to have been kicked out of Parliament. in a way he called anti-democratic.

Political analysts have suggested Mr Johnson could leave his constituency to run for a seat in a safer Tory seat, such as the one vacated by Nadine Dorries, a Mr Johnson loyalist who announced on Friday that she would not stand for re-election. re-election. He could also try running in the friendlier constituency of Henley, which he once represented.

But even as an elected lawmaker, Mr Johnson earned big bucks as a speaker at events around the world. And he may have calculated that, for now at least, it was better for his reputation to leave parliament on his terms than risk losing his constituency in a public vote.

The prospect of a by-election in Mr Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat will not be a welcome one for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose Conservative Party is trailing the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls. A defeat there would be a blow to the party’s morale as it prepares for a general election which is due to take place by January 2025 but is expected in the second half of next year.

And Mr Johnson’s angry resignation will bring back memories of the extraordinary political struggles that plagued the government last year when Britain saw two prime ministers toppled in quick succession.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labor Party, said Mr Johnson was leaving ‘in disgrace’, adding: ‘The British public is fed up with this endless Tory soap opera played at their expense.’

For all Mr Johnson’s ability to grab headlines, his popularity has waned since leaving Downing Street. Mr Sunak, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Mr Johnson and succeeded him after Liz Truss’ brief interlude, earned credit for putting the Tory-led government on more stable footing.

In his populist rise and litany of grievances as his fortunes have turned, Mr Johnson’s saga resembles that of Donald J. Trump, who was indicted on Thursday for obstruction of justice over his handling of classified documents.

Mr. Johnson’s legal problems are arguably less substantial than those of Mr. Trump, who faces multiple felony indictments. But his political fortunes may be less promising, at least in the short term, given Mr. Trump’s strong lead in the polls of Republican primary candidates.

nytimes Eur

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