Under normal circumstances, this would mean that time was up for the Prime Minister and his term of office. But Johnson has therefore refused to step down from his post and, with no general elections scheduled until 2024, his fate will ultimately be determined by his own conservative members of parliament, the only people who can remove him from office prematurely.
Conservative party polls also don’t look very good, though party sources think Johnson is still more of an electoral asset than a problem. They are aware that this could change if Johnson is issued another fine by the police or if more details emerge from the so-called “Partygate” scandal.
This means in the medium term that Johnson must simply move forward and avoid the various pitfalls directly in front of him, which his allies note he has managed to do so far and can continue to do so.
The first such trap comes on Thursday, when members of parliament will be able to vote on a motion tabled by opposition parties that would refer the prime minister to a parliamentary committee that would investigate his conduct.
Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, said: “We are urging Conservative MPs to do the right thing. To respect the sacrifices their constituents made during the pandemic.”
Johnson, who has a sizable parliamentary majority, is expected to survive the vote, but Labor sources are quietly reporting that the motion will be politically toxic for Johnson either way. If Conservative MPs vote against holding the inquiry, Labor will be able to go to their seats in the next election and point out that they have voted to protect the Prime Minister from scrutiny.
And there will be another test in a few weeks: local elections will take place across the country on May 5. While they won’t remove Johnson from office, the election will be an opportunity for voters to send an angry message directly to Downing Street.
While Conservatives suffered huge dips in multiple polls ahead of the election, observers believe it would take a spectacular defeat for Johnson’s lawmakers to commit political regicide against Johnson. But that’s not out of the question – and those who have seriously considered removing the Prime Minister from office see summer as the best time to get rid of him, as it would give a new leader enough time to settle down in the job sooner. that the upcoming general election.
After these elections, the pitfalls are slightly more difficult to predict. Johnson could be fined again at any time for other Downing Street rallies that broke the laws of his own government. And a high-ranking civil service official’s final report on the Partygate scandal may be so damning that Conservative poll numbers will plummet further.
However, for the time being, Johnson remains in his post, unwilling to step down, and no one is strong enough to force him to leave. He is frustrating to those who want him to leave, but politics simply makes it virtually impossible to get rid of Johnson in the foreseeable future. Whether that’s a good thing for Johnson and his party is a completely different question – and there are Labor figures who think Johnson fighting the upcoming general election would be preferable to a new, more credible alternative.