Boris Johnson Made One Fatal Error

He apologized, and that rarely plays well in politics, writes Martha Gill
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2022 11:10 AM CDT
Boris Johnson Made One Fatal Error
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to read a statement outside 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(Newser) – Boris Johnson has been beset by one scandal after another over the years, so why did the latest one bring his resignation? At the New York Times, Martha Gill writes that Johnson made a big political error this week: He apologized. "It was a mistake, and I apologize for it," he said of his decision to appoint a lawmaker to a party post even though the man had been accused of sexual misconduct. Once Johnson said that, ministerial resignations began pouring in. "Offered in the hope of mitigating damage, apologies often instead open the floodgates," writes Gill. "That's not to say politicians are wrong to apologize when they have made a mistake, of course. It's just that, in politics, it tends not to go well." More:

  • Cringe factor: At the Washington Post, Adam Taylor observes that "for years, Boris Johnson's superpower was his lack of shame." He was the butt of endless jokes and the center of countless scandals, and yet he shrugged off the embarrassments and endured. However, fellow Conservatives who once "delighted" in his ability to do that are now being affected themselves, and they've had it. With Thursday's resignation, "Johnson ended up the first British prime minister brought down not by personal shame, but by a collective cringe."
  • Until autumn? Johnson says he intends to remain in his post as Conservative Party leader—and thus as a "caretaker" prime minister—until a new leader is chosen. It's possible that won't happen until autumn. "One does have to wonder how easily Johnson would be dislodged after a couple of months of relative normality at 10 Downing Street," writes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Instead, there's a decent chance the party will speed things up and appoint a different caretaker quickly, he adds. One possibility is former PM Theresa May. (The next British general election isn't scheduled until 2025, though it's possible an early one could be called, as the BBC explains in a what-happens-next primer.)

  • Spell broken: "None of this was a surprise, because dishonesty has been the one constant through Johnson’s career," writes Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian. Freedland digs into the particular forces at play that allowed Johnson to thrive in spite of that. "In the age of Trump and Brexit, to be a congenital bull---- artist—as Johnson always had been—was to define yourself as a man of 'the people' and their 'instincts,' unrestrained by pettifogging niceties, heedless of the boring naysayers and their tedious facts, ready instead to take a stand against the know-all elites, establishment, and experts," he writes. Freedland is just happy that Johnson's "brief but toxic spell" has been broken.
  • Don't delay: One prominent figure warning against allowing Johnson to remain as prime minister for months is former PM John Major. "For the overall wellbeing of the country, Johnson should not remain in Downing Street ... for any longer than necessary to effect the smooth transition of government," Major writes, per the BBC.
(Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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