Can The Queen Make Boris Johnson Resign?

44 Tory MPs have now publicly questioned his fitness to hold office.

Queen Elizabeth II

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

When the Queen mourned the death of her husband Prince Phillip alone in Westminster Abbey, she became emblematic of thousands of families across the country who were forced to grieve quickly and quietly, without the supportive embrace of their loved ones, due to ongoing pandemic restrictions.

But while the bereaved everyman and our own monarchy followed government guidelines last April, parties raged at Downing Street. On the night before Prince Phillip’s funeral, staffers were sent to the shops to fill up a suitcase with wine. Sources claimed there was a ‘party atmosphere’ with ‘music blaring out’ of a laptop and cleaners wiping up red wine.

In light of the actions outlined in Sue Gray's report, there have been many further calls for Boris Johnson to resign. He's been fined by the Met Police and more than 40 Tory MPs have publicly questioned Johnson’s fitness to hold office with many suspecting that a vote of no confidence is pending.

But did Boris Johnson break the ministerial code? And can the Queen make Boris Johnson resign? We've done the research into all the questions everyone is Googling right now.

Has Boris Johnson broken the ministerial code?

Boris Johnson's ethics minister Lord Geidt has told Johnson that he's at risk of placing the ministerial code in 'ridicule' over the Partygate scandal. Geidt has said that there are 'legitimate' questions over whether Johnson broke the ministerial code and has threatened to resign from his role if the PM doesn't answer them.

At the time of the parties, and Johnson's subsequent explanation in the Commons, the ministerial code stated that ministers who 'knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.'

But Boris Johnson re-wrote the ministerial code in May and removed all references to honesty, accountability, transparency and integrity.

'The new ministerial code is a disgrace,' said Labour MP and chairman of the parliament's standard's committee Chris Bryant said of the changes. 'It means that the tiny semblance of accountability disappears. "If you break the rules, just rewrite the rulebook"'

Can the Queen make Boris Johnson resign?

The answer is that, technically, yes. Although the UK is based on a constitutional monarchy, which means the Queen’s role in politics is largely ceremonial, she still maintains the power to fire the Prime Minister if she absolutely needs to.

After the numerous scandals and flagrant disregard for the rules, this might seem like a no brainer to many at this point. But even though the Queen has the ability to oust Boris Johnson, this power hasn’t been put into practice for centuries and that's highly unlikely to change now.

Robert Hazell, Professor Of Government And Constitution at University College London, told the Guardian in 2019: ‘Short answer: the Queen could dismiss Boris Johnson if he lost a vote of no confidence and refused to resign. But she would only do so if the House of Commons indicated clearly who should be appointed as prime minister in his place.’

Will Boris Johnson resign?

While Boris Johnson seems unlikely to resign of his own accord, MPs can table a motion of no confidence in Johnson without the Queen's intervention if they want him removed as Prime Minister. If this happens, MPs from all parties will then vote whether they want the sitting Government to continue.

If a vote of no confidence receives a majority, then the motion will pass and the sitting Government has two weeks to win a confidence vote or lose power. Alternatively, a new government can also be formed if it gets the support of the majority in the House of Commons.

If the Government fails to win a majority and no alternative Government is agreed, then there will be another general election to decide who’s in power. That’s right, another one.

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