Does Labour really want Boris to resign?

Frank McKenna reflects on whether Boris Johnson going or staying would be best for Labour in his latest Downtown blog.

Frank McKenna

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Wes Streeting, Lisa Nandy, Angela Rayner and Emily Thornberry are just some of the shadow cabinet who have taken to the airwaves this week to call on prime minister Boris Johnson to resign.

On Wednesday, the Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded the same during prime ministers’ question time.

But, as the party-gate row escalates, the excuses of lockdown rule-breaking in Downing Street become ever more bizarre (Johnson was ambushed by a birthday cake, according to one Tory MP this week), and the polls continue to show growing discontent with the government, does the Labour Party really want Boris to walk?

In truth, the official opposition will be torn. They will genuinely believe that the current PM is damaging the country. You may choose not to believe this, but politicians do actually care about the welfare of the nation, whichever party they represent. 

But, even from the perspective of gaining a party-political advantage, some in Labour will fear, in their bones, that if anyone can ‘bounce back’ from the series of controversies and setbacks that Johnson has been damaged by in recent months, it is the prime minister.

Indeed, the reason his own party haven’t done in him up to this point, despite the daily dose of revelations, his lying to parliament, a disastrous by-election defeat, even an apology to the Queen, many Conservative backbenchers believe that Johnson is still the man who will be their best asset, whenever the General Election happens.

Against this of course, is a hope within Labour that this latest row has cut through and will turn people off not just in the short-term, but forever.

But, just as Tories have a gut instinct that Boris does indeed have the cojones to comeback – so too does Labour. And for that reason, on balance, they’d like to see another Tory opponent in Downing Street sooner rather than later.

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