Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces most critical week that defines his political future
LONDON Jan 24: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces the most critical week of his premiership, as he braces for the outcome of an investigation that could lead to his own colleagues ousting him. Allegations are also mounting over the conduct of his government whips -- the Conservative Party lawmakers responsible for maintaining party discipline -- with member of Parliament Nusrat Ghani claiming on Sunday that she was fired as a minister in 2020 partly because of her Muslim faith. Several Conservative MPs and ministers rallied round Ghani, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid writing on Twitter it was a “very serious matter which needs a proper investigation." It comes after Tory MP William Wragg accused the whips of trying to “blackmail" MPs who were challenging Johnson’s leadership by threatening to withdraw taxpayer funding from their constituencies. The latest swirl of allegations around Johnson and his team has further dented trust in the prime minister, just as he battles for survival over claims that he allowed alcohol-fueled gatherings in Downing Street which broke pandemic rules imposed by his own government. Johnson has so far managed to keep a lid on the growing rebellion within his party despite a number of Tory MPs publicly calling on him to resign. But many lawmakers have been waiting for the outcome of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry before deciding whether to join rebels in forcing a vote of confidence in Johnson’s leadership. Her report is due to be published this week but the exact day has not been confirmed. The government will attempt to get back on the front foot Monday by announcing new funding for schools to help deal with Covid-19, as part of a transition to living with the virus. Schools in England will get 8 million pounds to both support the vaccination program for 12-15 year-olds and provide “air cleaning units" to boost ventilation where needed, the Education Department said in an emailed statement.