December 6th , 2022


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5 months ago


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5 months ago



Boris Johnson tries to contain the Chris Pincher controversy, the Cabinet seems more reluctant to stand up for their weak leader. 


On Sunday, Thérèse Coffey, the secretary for work and pensions, struggled to justify how the prime minister handled the accusations against Chris Pincher (Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA).


Boris Johnson has once again forced his ministers to defend the indefensible by making them explain why the Prime Minister appointed Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip despite the fact that his alleged behavior was well known in Westminster. 

Thérèse Coffey, the secretary for work and pensions, endured a torturous broadcast round on Sunday morning when she was made to say that Mr. Johnson was unaware of "particular" or confirmed charges made against Mr. Pincher in February. 

Despite the fact that Mr. Pincher had to leave the position previously in 2017, while Mr. Johnson was serving a prison sentence and former Olympic rower Alex Story accused him of acting like "pound shop Harvey Weinstein,"


Additionally, it is widely believed that the Prime Minister himself told his aides in 2020 that Mr. Pincher was "handsy... Pincher by name, Pincher by nature," that Conservative MPs voiced their concerns to the whips prior to his appointment in February, and that Craig Whittaker resigned as a whip in protest over his appointment in February, although he denies this. 

Despite the numerous accusations against Mr. Pincher dating back many years, Mr. Johnson may not have been aware of a specific or "substantiated" claim. Nevertheless, this is hardly an adequate defense.


Ministers are aware that answering extremely unpleasant questions about government policy and occasionally quelling a political tempest are part of their job duties. 

However, in recent months they have repeatedly been called upon to defend the Prime Minister despite having very little to offer; the Partygate scandal, the Wallpapergate scandal, and the Owen Paterson affair have all made them uneasy.


It makes sense that ministers feel they have been placed in a "invidious position" once more, according to sources close to the Cabinet who spoke to The Telegraph. One minister even described having to defend Mr. Johnson's handling of the allegations as "soul destroying." 

As a result of the apparent concern, education minister Will Quince was obliged to deny on Monday morning that he was only participating in the broadcast round as a junior minister because Cabinet colleagues were unwilling to do so. 

But Oliver Dowden's retirement and the lack of support from several ministers for Mr. Johnson following his setbacks in two by-elections last month suggests that some in the Cabinet are growing weary of tying their allegiance to a Prime Minister who appears more and more fragile.

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