Critics argue that Mr Johnson and his party have a poor record when it comes to standards in public life. Since Mr Johnson came to power his enemies have accused the government of cronyism over the way they awarded contracts during the pandemic. Questions also swirled about the fundraising activities of well-connected Conservative Party co-chair Ben Elliot.
Mr Johnson has also come under scrutiny for who paid for his Caribbean vacation, as well as for the upscale renovation of his Downing Street apartment.
Indeed, his former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, now chief critic, argued Thursday that Mr Johnson wanted to weaken the system not so much to save Mr Paterson, but because he feared an investigation into the how donations were used for Downing. Street renovations could show the rules have been broken.
Mr. Cummings is seen as a partisan figure, and Mr. Paterson’s departure could spark further negative headlines.
But some of Mr Johnson’s own lawmakers are furious that they were forced to vote for a project that was scrapped within hours. And the opposition Labor Party is certain to exploit the episode, already accusing the government of “wallowing in sordid”.
As for Mr Paterson, he adopted an unrepentant tone in a resignation statement in which he said he “would remain a public servant but out of the cruel world of politics”.