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British PM back in crisis mode after trip abroad

#British #crisis #mode #trip

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned from a trip abroad on Friday to face several crises, including the recent resignation of a top Conservative from his scandal-hit government.

The embattled leader found his ruling Tories mired in yet another controversy over sexual impropriety shortly after landing back in Britain from a NATO summit in Spain on Thursday.

In a letter to Johnson, Conservative MP Chris Pincher announced he was stepping down as Deputy Chief Whip after admitting to drinking “far too much” and “embarrassing myself and others” late on Wednesday.

He had reportedly been accused of groping two men in front of one another at London’s exclusive Carlton Club, prompting complaints from Conservatives.

His departure from his Whips’ office – tasked with enforcing party discipline and standards – marks the latest allegation of sexual misconduct by Tories in recent months.

Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned in April after seeing pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons, leading to a by-election in his previously secure seat that the party lost in a historic victory for the opposition Liberal Democrats.

Johnson himself has been embroiled in various scandals, including the so-called “Partygate” affair, which prompted his own lawmakers to trigger a no-confidence vote against him in early June, which he narrowly survived.

The 58-year-old still faces a parliamentary inquiry into whether he lied to MPs about the lockdown-violating parties at Downing Street.

– ‘Survival Mode’ –

The controversy comes as Britain grapples with a deepening cost-of-living crisis and a summer of strikes by various unions over wages and working conditions.

Meanwhile, the country continues to struggle to adjust to Brexit and risks a potential trade war with the European Union by unilaterally overhauling the special deal for Northern Ireland agreed with the bloc.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that Britain’s trading performance this year fell to its worst level on record, contributing to the pound’s recent slide.

A growing chorus of critics are arguing that Johnson’s administration is too distracted from its own concerns to focus on these mounting challenges.

“We have a trade problem, a problem with Northern Ireland, a labor shortage problem, the pound has depreciated significantly, business investment is falling,” former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC late Thursday.

“I think it’s incoherent and it’s not thought through either, and that’s because the Government is in survival mode – they’re not thinking about what the right long-term plan is for Britain’s future.”

Johnson returned home after nine days of globetrotting, during which he attended three international summits, including a Commonwealth meeting in Rwanda and a G7 meeting in Germany.

– ‘Serious Questions’ –

Amid global issues such as the war in Ukraine, the ailing leader had hoped to use the tour as a moment to reset his difficult tenure.

But Pincher’s resignation within hours of Johnson’s return immediately drew attention back to claims of Tory pollution and wrongdoing.

It leaves Johnson one more post to fill his senior ranks after the Conservative leader resigned in response to two painful by-election defeats, including that for the Parish seat.

A Downing Street source told British media that Pincher would face no further action from the party and would remain a Tory MP.

However, this prompted an immediate backlash, with Johnson being urged to suspend him from the parliamentary group and open another internal investigation.

Pincher only assumed his last role as Deputy Chief Whip in February, and Johnson reportedly defied warnings from other Tories about his conduct.

Pincher had previously resigned as Junior Whip in 2017 after complaining he had made an unwanted pass at a former Olympic rower and potential Conservative election candidate.

“Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer as to why Chris Pincher was given this role in the first place and how he can remain a Conservative MP,” said Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner.

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