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Former government minister hammers Boris Johnson on Channel 4 privatization

A former Conservative government minister and Boris Johnson supporter has slammed the sale of Channel 4 as an “unnecessary and provocative attempt to address a political non-issue,” as the Prime Minister gets ready to face a no confidence vote in his leadership tonight.

Jesse Norman, who used to be a senior Treasury Minister and has supported Johnson as both Prime Minister and Mayor of London for decades, delivered a scathing attack on Johnson’s leadership in an open letter just 30 minutes before the no confidence vote was confirmed this morning.

Norman lambasted virtually all aspects of Johnson’s current leadership including the sale of Channel 4, which he described as an “unnecessary and provocative attempt to address a political non-issue during a time of crisis.”

The sale, which was enacted into legislation last month and is now making its way through UK parliament, will come “at significant cost to the independent UK film and TV industry,” added Norman, who said the government more generally “lacks a sense of mission” and has “no long-term plan.”

Norman is one of a number of Conservative MPs to criticize the sale over the past few months, while 96% of respondents to the government consultation into Channel 4 privatization signaled that it is a bad idea.

If Johnson is removed, a new Culture Secretary replacing incumbent Nadine Dorries may choose to reverse the decision to sell Channel 4.

No Confidence

Norman took aim at Johnson’s “presiding over a culture of casual law-breaking at 10 Downing Street” in reference to Partygate, the scandal that has engulfed Johnson’s government over the past six months.

That scandal, which has led to the investigation of a number of parties that allegedly took place within the Prime Minister’s residence during COVID lockdowns, has led to a huge decrease in Johnson’s confidence, even though he won an enormous majority in 2019.

To that end, he is now facing a vote of no confidence in his leadership tonight after more than 15% of Conservative MPs, at least 54, submitted letters of no confidence, including Norman.

If more than half of Conservative MPs, numbering 180, vote to have him removed then he will no longer be Prime Minister after the vote takes place between 6PM and 8PM GMT (10AM PT – 12PM PT), with a result expected shortly after.

A sitting Prime Minister has never lost a no confidence vote but the last time it took place, when Theresa May was Prime Minister in 2019, she had resigned within a few months.

Norman’s scathing latter added: “Neither the Conservative party nor this country can afford to squander the next two years adrift and distracted by endless debate about you and your leadership. For you to prolong this charade by remaining in office not only insults the electorate and the tens of thousands of people who support you… it makes a decisive change of government at the next election much more likely. That is potentially catastrophic for this country.” Deadline

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