Boris Johnson has found himself at the center of several scandals at once-he is accused of using funds from party donors to repair his office apartment, is suspected of tax breaks to the billionaire in exchange for supplies of ventilators, and is criticized for saying that a pile of corpses is better than a lockdown. Polls have already recorded a decline in the rating of Johnson and the Conservative Party. Experts do not deny the possibility that the prime minister may eventually resign.
Recently, information spread in the media that Johnson spent about ВЈ200 thousand on construction work in housing, while officially ВЈ30 thousand was allocated from the budget for such expenses.
And the question of where Johnson got the вЂњmissing fundsвЂќ, the British press asked last year. For example, the BBC, citing sources, reported that the prime minister was going to cover the repairs by creating a charitable foundation вЂ” often this is what US presidents do when reshuffling the White House.
However, in mid-April of this year, ex-adviser to Johnson Dominic Cummings called his version. According to him, the prime minister was going to secretly pay for the repairs at the expense of donations to the Conservative Party, which he leads.
вЂњI told him that I thought his plans to secretly pay for repairs at the expense of [political] donors were unethical, stupid, potentially illegal, and almost certainly in violation of the rules for disclosing information about political donations,вЂќ Cummings announced.
In fact, the statement of the ex-adviser Johnson caused a sharp interest in the prime minister's apartment from the media and his opponents in parliament, especially in the Labor Party, which demanded the launch of a special commission to clarify all the actions of the prime minister and possible violations of the Code of Ministers on his part.
Labor leader Keir Starmer called for a full investigation into the funding of repairs to Johnson's flat, accusing the prime minister of trying to hide the truth and pointing to the lack of publication of the cabinet's annual report.
вЂњInstead of dodging the truth and hiding it, the Prime Minister should come clean and publish a long-delayed List of ministers' interests, or the 'stench' around who may have lent him up to ВЈ200,000 for repairs вЂ” and what services they may have sought in return вЂ” will only grow,вЂќ the Labour leader announced.
The report itself, according to the ministerial code, must be published by the UK government twice a year, but the last time this document was posted in July last year вЂ” at the moment, the reasons for the delay are unknown. At the same time, Johnson's expenses for repairs are already being studied by a special commission, cooperating with the conservatives, but there is no decision yet.
Loyalty and вЂњpiles of corpsesвЂќ
However, the scandal over the Prime Minister's spending on the office apartment is only part of the Prime Minister's problems. Cummings statement on the matter comes amid a long history of leaks from Johnson's office regarding the government's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
So, the media got fragments from the correspondence of the head of the Cabinet of Ministers with the billionaire Sir James Dyson, known, among other things, for his active support for Brexit.
According to these materials, in March of last year, the parties discussed the supply of ventilators from the businessman's company, and Johnson agreed to provide him with some tax breaks in exchange for the equipment.
In the opposition, this information was called direct evidence of nepotism against businessmen associated with the Conservative Party, like Dyson. Johnson did not see anything serious in the reports, saying that the authorities in the context of the pandemic acted in the interests of the UK.
вЂњLet me tell you that if you think there is anything remotely dodgy, or weird, or sneaky about trying to install more ventilators during a national pandemic and do everything in your power to do so, then I think you are crazy,вЂќ the prime minister stressed.
At the same time, Cummings was also connected with this story вЂ” it was he who was called the author of the leak of this information by the media. The former adviser to the prime minister, however, denied this information in his blog. In response to the suspicions, he pointed to other aides to Johnson, just recalled the renovation of his apartment, and also made an ambiguous statement-he promised to answer all questions on May 26, speaking before a parliamentary committee studying the actions of the authorities during the pandemic.
Moreover, Cummings indicated that he would not only answer questions from British MPs but would also be quite willing to publish all the emails he received while working as a senior adviser to Johnson.
However, this complex of problems is not the only difficulty for the Prime Minister. At the end of April, another leak appeared in the media: the prime minister was caught in quite controversial statements during the discussion of measures to combat the pandemic.
So, the Daily Mail and the BBC, citing sources, reported that in October last year, Johnson spoke sharply against the new lockdown, and allegedly at one of the meetings said that вЂњ it is better to grow a pile of thousands of bodies.вЂќ
Representatives of the Prime Minister hastily denied this information. According to the press service, Johnson did not say anything like that, and who could have said such words instead of him is unknown.
вЂњJohnson has many enemiesвЂќ
The wave of scandals covered the prime minister not at the best moment, as in May, the UK is expected to hold local elections. The performance of Johnson and the Conservative Party has already sunk amid criticism of the head of the cabinet. According to an Ipsos MORI poll, 35% of Britons trust the prime minister, while 59% consider him unreliable. The conservative's numbers fell by 5%, compared to a survey from early April, where they gained 44% support among respondents.
And an Opinium poll found that about 37% of voters call the prime minister mostly or completely corrupt, compared to 31% who believe he is clean and honest. Even more вЂ” 38% вЂ” say that the Conservative Party as a whole is corrupt, and only 31% believe that it is honest.
The scandals at the center of which Johnson was, of course, will reduce the ratings of the prime minister himself, and may also negatively affect the positions of the Conservative Party.