Our local media took an immense interest in the no-confidence vote against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which he has survived. His defeat would have sent the anti-Imran Khan camp in Pakistan dancing for no reason or for all the right reasons. Boris Johnson is a friend of former prime minister Imran Khan, and his ouster through a smooth no-confidence vote would have been a ‘not-to-be-missed’ opportunity for Imran’s antagonists to bash him.
Imran Khan and his party will be remembered for acting like a spoiled child during the no-confidence motion. Unlike British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Imran Khan is not so lucky to survive the no-confidence vote against him as all his coalition partners and two dozen MPs of his own party deserted him in his last days of the government.
Boris Johnson also faced a revolt within his Conservative Party as 41 percent of his party MPs turned against him. Imran Khan’s allies and defectors said they were leaving him for his failure to control price hike and for not meeting their demands. Boris Johnson’s lawmakers rebelled against him for his parties during the lockdown. Throwing a party should not be a crime, but the British prime minister broke the law as gatherings were banned due to COVID.
Imran Khan faced the no-confidence motion in the fourth year of his government, while his British friend came face to face with the motion in the third year of his rule. Imran Khan can be credited with defeating the status quo parties and leading a third party to the power corridor, whereas Boris Johnson led his party – the Conservatives – to the government with a comfortable majority since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 victory.
When Imran Khan clinched power in 2018, he put all his major political adversaries in jail within a year, whereas the Johnson-led Conservative Party demolished the rival party – Labour – in its strongholds of Midlands and industrial north. Everything was going smoothly for both Imran Khan and Boris Johnson, when both of them faced intra-party revolt in 2022.
Their prospects to complete the full term changed for varied reasons. Imran Khan breached the same-page trust, while Boris Johnson fell victim to social gatherings at Downing Street. The party stood against Boris Johnson for the reason that when the rest of the country was in a lockdown, he was dancing, and drinking at the state residence allocated to the prime minister.
Post-no-confidence vote time has brought relief for both friends. Imran Khan is riding a newborn popularity wave, whereas Boris Johnson holds the support of 211 Conservative MPs, out of 357, and that the dissidents cannot topple him for one year. There is a lesson for the Shehbaz Sharif government and the people of Pakistan in the British episode.
The British MPs showed their resentment and later revolted against their prime minister for throwing parties in violation of the quarantine rules. Even though he has survived the motion, the news of breaking the law of the land has struck a blow to Boris Johnson’s integrity and leadership.
Last week, our prime minister was on an official visit to Turkiye. The purpose of the visit was to seek handouts to beat the financial crisis the government has been facing for weeks. One picture of the tour raised several eyebrows here in Pakistan and worldwide in which Shehbaz Sharif’s son – Suleman Shehbaz – is seen sharing a table with both state dignitaries of Turkey and Pakistan.
Suleman Shehbaz might be an honourable guest for the Turkish hosts, but he is wanted in Pakistan’s courts of law in several cases of money laundering. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should convince his absconding son to turn himself into the Pakistani authorities, and if this cannot be done, the prime minister should avoid releasing such pictures to the media.