Boris Johnson is in 'great difficulty' admits Steve Baker
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Over the past couple of months, the Prime Minister has lurched from crisis to crisis. Be it the ‘sleaze’ scandal that engulfed his Conservative party or the apparent admission last week from his aides that an illegal party took place at Westminster last Christmas, Mr Johnson’s position as PM has never looked so vulnerable – but could he be set to leave his role any time soon?
Mr Johnson still has more than two years left to run of his current tenure as Prime Minister, but it’s looking increasingly likely he won’t last the duration.
The PM has been embroiled in several crises in recent months which has led to his approval rating drop to its lowest level (29 percent) since assuming office in July 2019, according to YouGov.
In fact, in the wake of last week’s revelations bookmakers across the board have slashed odds on Mr Johnson being replaced as Prime Minister in 2022.
Betfair for instance have Mr Johnson at evens to be ousted from No 10 in 2022 and at 6/1 heading into 2023.
Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom said: “Betfair Exchange’s political punters have spoken and they now believe the pressure on the PM will ratchet up again as the odds of the previously safe North Shropshire seat turning yellow shorten again to just 4/7.
“In the past week, the odds for Boris Johnson to quit this year have tumbled from 149/1 to just 11/1 and there’s now more chance of the PM stepping down before 2021 is out than ever.”
Why is the PM’s future being questioned?
Allegations of Downing Street Xmas parties
Last week footage was broadcast, by ITV News, that showed Mr Johnson’s aides appearing to admit that a Downing Street Christmas party did take place last year.
While millions of people across the UK were prohibited from socialising due to Covid restrictions the alleged gathering is thought to have occured – on December 18 2020.
London, at that point in time, was subjected to Tier three restrictions which clearly stated: “No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in any indoor space.”
Allegra Stratton, the PM’s former spokesperson, resigned later in the week for the part she played within the recording and an investigation has since been launched by the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, into alleged Downing Street Xmas parties.
The Tory sleaze scandal
Last month the PM faced criticism for his handling of the ongoing sleaze scandal, which has enveloped many MPs within his own party.
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Mr Johnson attempted to save the ex-Tory MP, Owen Paterson, from suspension after it emerged he had breached lobbying rules.
However, following backlash from the public and politicians alike, the Government performed a U-turn and stood down from their efforts to save Mr Paterson.
Since then Mr Johnson has submitted a series of recommendations to the committee on standards in public life, which relate to MP’s working second jobs.
The committee is expected to have written and returned its reforms to the Government in the new year.
UK withdrawal from Afghanistan
Last August, the PM came under scrutiny for his handling of the British withdrawal from Afghanistan.
As coalition forces stood down in the country, the Taliban staged a rapid advance and re-captured significant areas it had originally lost during the past two decades of conflict.
Consequently, a humanitarian crisis developed which led to thousands of Afghan civilians being evacuated, over several weeks. Indeed, by August the UK had offered asylum to 15,000 people.
In the aftermath Mr Johnson and his Government were accused of failing to coordinate an effective and organised withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Some politicians – including his predecessor, Theresa May – questioned why a UK presence was not maintained at all.
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