UK Live Updates: Latest from Boris Johnson

Credit…Pool photo by Ian Vogler

LONDON — A day after suffering two landslide defections from his cabinet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seemed determined to fight on Wednesday. But the chances of his political survival looked increasingly dubious as lawmakers prepared to grill him in parliament over recent scandals and members of his own Tory party gathered to lay the groundwork for another no-confidence vote. possible.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson will be questioned by Labor leader Keir Starmer during Prime Minister’s Questions. In the afternoon, the Prime Minister appeared before the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, where he risked facing hostile questions from both Conservatives and opposition MPs.

Separately, members of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee are due to meet, potentially setting the wheels in motion for another no-confidence vote against Mr Johnson. Because he survived the recent confidence vote, he cannot face another for a year unless party rules are changed – a prospect that could become likely if the committee elects well-known opponents to his direction.

The two ministers who resigned – Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid – resigned after Mr Johnson apologized for the latest scandal to engulf his government, which involves charges of sexual misconduct and excessive alcohol consumption by a Conservative Party MP. Several other officials have since followed, including Will Quince, the Minister for Children and Families, who earlier this week fiercely defended Mr Johnson’s role in the scandal.

Their departures opened up a movement against Mr Johnson within his party that has been building against him for months, fueled by a stream of embarrassing reports of social gatherings in Downing Street that breached the government’s own coronavirus lockdown rules.

Mr Johnson moved quickly to announce the replacements for Mr Sunak and Mr Javid, signaling that he planned to try to stabilize the government and fight for his job. And he did his best to project a defiant image: according to The Times of London, when an ally asked him on Tuesday night if he was considering quitting, he responded with the epithet “F-that”.

Yet clearly the Prime Minister was in greater political peril than at any other time in his tumultuous three-year tenure in Downing Street.

A freewheeling journalist turned politician, Mr Johnson appeared to defy the laws of political gravity, surviving multiple investigations, a criminal police fine and a no-confidence vote among his Conservative party lawmakers just last month. – all linked to parties held in Downing Street during the coronavirus closures.

But it was the most recent outcry over Mr Johnson’s promotion of a Tory lawmaker, Chris Pincher, who appeared to tip Mr Sunak and Mr Javid, and paved the way for the latest round of recriminations.

Last week, Mr Pincher resigned as deputy chief party whip after admitting to being drunk at a private club in London where he was said to have groped two men. On Tuesday, Downing Street admitted that Mr Johnson had been told of previous charges against Mr Pincher in 2019 – which Mr Johnson’s office initially denied. In what has become a familiar ritual in British politics, the Prime Minister apologized to the BBC for bringing up Mr Pincher.

Mr Starmer, the Labor leader, could face his own judgment on Wednesday: Police in Durham, England, are set to release the findings of an inquest into whether he broke the law by taking part in a beer-and-Indian-dinner with other party officials during a pandemic lockdown. Mr Starmer has vowed to quit if the police fine him.

Part of Mr Johnson’s strength had been his Cabinet’s unified support, despite a relentless tide of negative headlines. But the latest losses have heightened fears among many Tories that Mr Johnson has lost his touch as the voters’ champion.

“It’s easy to dismiss the seemingly endless drip of resignation letters submitted by supposedly minor members of government,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “But that only reinforces the impression that Boris is bleeding slowly but surely.”