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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Knives out for Boris

by New Worker correspondent

THE KNIVES are out for the Prime Minister as dissident Tories step up their efforts to force Johnson to resign. Mounting anger on the street over the latest revelations about parties in Downing Street, whilst the rest of us were living under virtual house arrest during the Covid-19 lock-down regime, has spilled over to the Tory backbenches – one of them spectacularly defecting to Labour this week. The turn-coat, Christian Wakeford, is one of the “red wall” Tory MPs who took Bury South from Labour at the last election. He is the first Conservative MP to cross the aisle to Labour in 15 years.

Some want Johnson out now. Others will wait until senior civil servant Sue Gray completes her investigation into more than 15 allegedly lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street and other government departments during the 2020 pandemic restrictions.

Johnson’s mealy-mouthed efforts to talk himself out of the crisis have failed. He told Parliament last week that he believed at least one bash, the controversial May “bring your own booze” gathering, was a “work event” that could “technically” be held in line with the rules. But his former adviser, Dominic Cummings, says this is a lie.

under oath

Cummings, who’s been campaigning against Johnson since he was unceremoniously dumped last year, claims his former master had known in advance about a drinks party at his residence, adding that he could “swear under oath” it was so. Many expect more to come from the unfaithful servant over the weekend to step up the pressure on the Tory leader.

Maverick Tory MPs are lobbying to get the 54 letters of no confidence needed by their powerful 1922 Committee to trigger a leadership challenge. Some say over 30 have already been sent. Others tell the press they expect to cross the threshold by the weekend.

Behind them stands a cabal of Tory grandees, including those Remainers purged by Johnson to clear the way for Brexit, who see Johnson as an electoral liability that needs to be replaced before the next general election. Of that there can be no doubt with Labour, for the first time for many moons, some 10 points ahead in the opinion polls.

Labour is, at last, joining the fray with calls from Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner for Johnson to resign. But what comes next nobody knows – least of all, from Starmer. The opposition leader who’s never lost for words when purging Corbynistas seems incapable of presenting a credible alternative Labour platform to the electorate.

Last week he told us that he was “not in favour of nationalisation” when he rejected the notion that energy companies should return to public ownership to tackle the energy bill spike.

He talks about a new “contract with the British people” based on the three principles of “security”, “prosperity” and “respect”. He says everyone has a right to feel safe, to rely on the NHS when needed, and to have job security in exchange for “hard work”.

But whilst these Blairite platitudes may have struck a chord during the boom of the late 1990s, they are largely meaningless second-time round. And posing in front of a Union Jack and talking about patriotism is no substitute for a real agenda for change that can win the support of the workers whom Labour claims to represent.