UK Minister Resigns, Tries To Topple Johnson Government Before It's Even Official

In a race that has been marked by mostly harmless scandal (the altercation between Boris Johnson and girlfriend Carrie Symonds being an exception), some exciting developments are threatening to topple Johnson's administration before it even begins.

Duncan

Alan Duncan

Ministers' discomfort with serving under Boris Johnson have manifested in a series of resignations in recent days.

And on Monday, one of Johnson's longtime enemies within the Conservative Party became the latest to resign and try to be a thorn in Johnson's side, and possibly even scuttle hiswell-laid path to No. 10.

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Sir Alan Duncan resigned his post as foreign office minister, saying it was "customary" for ministers to step aside upon the changing of a PM, and added that it would free to "express my views" ahead of May leaving office.

May accepted Duncan's offer and thanked him for his "distinguished" service.

Though many still refuse to believe that Brexit, or a no-deal Brexit, is even possible...

UK

...Duncan immediately tried calling for a vote that, through a series of technicalities, would have amounted to a de facto confidence vote in Johnson.

But Duncan was stymied by Speaker John Bercow, who blocked his bid.

But even if enough support for the next leader was registered in the vote, it might have exposed how shaky a Johnson government would be.

In an interview with the BBC, Duncan said he wanted the Commons to hold an effective confidence vote in Johnson on Tuesday, after Johnson is declared the new Tory leader, but one day before he is sworn in as PM. Some saw the maneuver as a long-time critic trying to undercut Johnson, but Duncan insisted he wanted Johnson's government to succeed.

But, Duncan argued, this would be the first time in living memory where a minority government changes PM mid-term. To avoid a "constitutional crisis," Duncan said he thought it was important to establish that Johnson had the confidence of the Commons.

Recent polls show Johnson is expected to defeat his rival, Jeremy Hunt, by a landslide.

Infographic: Leadership election: Johnson heading for landslide victory  | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

But with Duncan now the fourth minister to resign from May's government in recent days, the vote just underscores how tenuous Johnson's government's grip on power will be.

Duncan, who once served under Johnson when Johnson was Foreign Secretary, said he was "totally" loyal to Johnson when he was his deputy, but that he nonetheless had serious concerns about Johnson's ability to lead. He suggested that he believes Jeremy Hunt, Johnson's opponent and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, would be the more competent leader, despite widely held expectations that Johnson will win a ballot of Tory members.

"When I was his deputy I was totally loyal. We never had an argument. I never bad mouthed him. So I’ve served both foreign secretaries. And I’ve no doubt which of the two is the more capable and more competent. So I have very grave concerns that he flies by the seat of his pants, and it’s all a bit haphazard and ramshackle. But there’s no personal animosity of any sort. I just think he’s going to go smack into a crisis of government."

Rumors have been spreading that Europe is preparing to offer Johnson a new deal to try and avert a "no deal" Brexit, something that Johnson seems increasingly intent on delivering.