Epistolary politics and a PS

Epistolary politics and a PS

The last week has been a week of many letters in the public eye, with a cascade occurring after those discussed in the two previous blogs. As anyone who follows British news will know, the Boris Johnson government is (as this was written, at around 7 am on Thursday, 7 July 2022) in a kind of stiff meltdown, a paradoxical state. Boris Johnson as Prime Minister stubbornly refuses to resign and says he has an electoral mandate to continue in government, while all around him senior and not so senior members of his government are resigning by the minute almost. This is extraordinary and unprecedented since the 1860s or 70s – previously as soon as a lack of confidence became manifested, prime ministers resigned. Not Johnson, who has some similar traits to those of Donald Trump. But nonetheless, his days as prime minister are numbered now. The role of letters in this is deeply fascinating. It is not just that the resignations are announced in semi-public letters, addressed to Boris Johnson but also released into the public sphere via social media. Yesterday saw one cabinet minister read out much of his letter of resignation in the House of Commons, holding it as he read from it. Is this a speech or a letter or something in between? And a group of five or six junior government members released a joint letter, in which they didn’t resign but advised Boris Johnson that he should do so, an interesting form of virtue-signalling which undercuts its own ethics by the signatories not actually resigning themselves. As ever, the BBC News website provides some interesting coverage, enabling readers of this blog to read the letters themselves. There are many things that are astonishing about these events, but certainly one of them is the very high-profile role that letter-writing and letter-replying has played and continues to play.

BBC News: Rishi Sunak’s and Sajid Javid’s resignation letters in full https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-62058236

BBC News: Government resignations: Who has gone, who is staying? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-62058278

PS. And at around 9.26 am UK time, came the news that Boris Johnson would resign. And yet another letter, another self-seeking too little too late missive, has been issued by someone who accepted a last-minute job from him as Chancellor, and now has his eyes on standing for the leadership:

 

 

 

Last updated: 7 July 2022


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