Will Boris Johnson be UK Prime Minister Through May? - Election Predictions
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “not a complete clown,” proclaimed his new communications director, Guto Harri, as he revealed that the prime minister initiated a defiant rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” when the pair met recently.
Reeling from the resignation of five top aides in 24 hours last week, Johnson has moved quickly to fill key posts within his government, inserting Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay as his chief of staff, and the aforementioned, Harri, a former aide from when Johnson was mayor of London, as his director of communications.
The moves are central to Johnson’s attempt to cling to power in the face of a growing Conservative Party rebellion. In addition to a reset of his Downing Street staff, the prime minister has promised rank-and-file lawmakers more influence over government decisions and indicated even flagship policies are now up for discussion.
But Johnson faces a race against time. While the ongoing London Metropolitan Police investigation into 12 parties that allegedly broke COVID-19 rules and the full report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the scandal has yet to be published, Johnson was seeking to bolster his support among members of Parliament (MPs) by ordering sweeping changes to his 10 Downing Street operation. Anger, though, continues to emanate from his Tory colleagues over the parties and shows no sign of abating.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, former schools minister Nick Gibb called for Johnson to resign over his “double standards” and “inaccurate” statements to Parliament about the lockdown gatherings. Under party rules, a vote on Johnson’s leadership is triggered if 54 Tory MPs — or 15% of the total — submit confidential letters calling for his removal. According to another UK newspaper, the Sunday Times, Johnson is preparing for just such a challenge to his leadership position with his advisers estimating the current total stands between 35 and 45, and others predicting the total is already over 50.
What’s more is that partygate, as it the scandal has been dubbed by the UK press, is clearly a distraction at the worst possible time. The Johnson’s Conservatives are already trailing the Labour Party in the polls, with Britons facing a squeeze on living standards that is expected to accelerate in the coming months.
The political betting website, PredictIt, is currently tracking five different markets related to Johnson and the political climate in the UK. Johnson’s odds of staying on as prime minister through May have edged past the 50¢ mark and now stand at 58¢ on Feb 8. This contract has been on a real rollercoaster ride as the details surrounding partygate have and Tory anger has evolved. The shorter-term market concluding at the end of February has been specifically impacted by the announcement of the ongoing police investigation into the parties. The contract is now at 93¢ — a far cry from the 66¢ it traded at on Jan. 23.
Johnson’s positional peril can also be seen as he leads both the European and G-20 next leader out markets. On the question of which of 10 European leaders will leave next, Johnson holds a significant lead — at 49¢ — over Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — at 17¢ — who faces an election on April 3 — and French President Emmanuel Macron — at 10¢ — who also faces a springtime election on April 10. It’s more of the same in the next G20 leader to leave market as Johnson tops the brackets at 59¢. Second place goes to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at 20¢, who faces an Oct. 2 election against the very popular ex-president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva.
So despite the prime minister’s best efforts at cleaning house, Johnson’s long-term future remains very much clouded as he careens from one crisis to another even as his short-term odds of remaining Prime Minster look good.