Boris Johnson’s party faces investigation over hospital vow as scandals mount

By James Ludden | Bloomberg

The UK government’s official spending watchdog is planning an investigation into Boris Johnson’s election promises to build 40 new hospitals, an unexpected probe that is expected to add to the litany of issues surrounding the prime minister.

The National Audit Office has sent a letter to Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, saying it will carry out a ‘value for money review’ into the programme, a key part of the Conservative Party manifesto for his successful 2019 election campaign.

Much of the inquiry is aimed at looking at what the manifesto describes as ‘new’ – some of the projects under consideration include the new wing of an existing hospital or the refurbishment of an existing site, the Guardian reported. .

“The only place these hospitals exist is in the Prime Minister’s imagination,” Streeting tweeted on Saturday, confirming the investigation.

The probe risks compounding the problems piling up for Johnson – his party lost two special elections last month, yet another sign that voters are turning against a politician who has built a reputation among his party’s followers as the winner of the vote. A YouGov poll released on Saturday indicated the Conservative Party would suffer significant losses in the so-called blue wall seats if an election were to be held now.

Prior to the weekend, the political focus was on Johnson’s delay in suspending an ally for an incident involving excessive drinking and misconduct. Chris Pincher had resigned as deputy chief whip – one of the most senior parliamentary party officials – nearly 24 hours before Johnson acted.

Newspapers including the Telegraph, normally a staunch government supporter, have noted that pressure is mounting on the Prime Minister to explain what he knew of Pincher and when. Pincher resigned from the whips office in 2017 following a report of another incident. For now, Pincher will remain in parliament as an independent MP.

More scandals are mounting for the Johnson administration – four Tory MPs have resigned or been suspended this year alone, and another unnamed Tory lawmaker was arrested in May on suspicion of rape.

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