Lady Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has fended off an attempt by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to replace her as head of the 54-nation organisation.
The British colleague, a former Labor Attorney General, won a vote by member country leaders 27-24 on whether to continue the prominent role for another two years.
The news is another blow to Johnson’s political credibility on a day when his Conservative party lost two important by-elections in England and the party leader resigned.
Scotland had run against Jamaica’s Secretary of State Kamina Johnson Smith, who was publicly backed by Britain and India.
Her victory at the Commonwealth The Rwanda leaders’ meeting came on Friday afternoon at the end of a showdown meeting that dragged on for several hours as leaders struggled to break the impasse by two rounds of voting.
Johnson praised the work of Baroness Scotland in a speech in Rwanda earlier this week.
However, British officials had privately informed against her, saying she had not provided effective or unified leadership since she was first appointed in 2016. They also pointed to £600,000 of money spent by the Commonwealth on Labor Court costs during her tenure.
However, Scotland’s allies argued that these expenses reflected a period of financial turbulence for the organization when it had to make large savings that were accompanied by redundancies.
The BBC revealed earlier this year that the Scottish-led Commonwealth Secretariat had been criticized for allegedly suppressing an independent audit of its finances.
But allies of the secretary general have accused Johnson of waging a politically motivated “vendetta” against her over her independence.
Scotland has been criticized by some newspapers for lavish spending on the clemency and favor property she occupies in Mayfair, London. But those editions were commissioned before she landed the role in 2016, according to her allies.
Her first four-year term ended in 2020, at which time Johnson was asking Commonwealth leaders to replace her. However, it remained in place during the turmoil of the Covid-19 crisis. The Commonwealth Summit in Rwanda, originally planned for June 2020, has been postponed several times.
“It is deeply humbling to have been reappointed as Secretary General of this great Commonwealth. It is a true honor to continue to serve our family of peoples,” said Scotland.
Johnson had previously tried to claim at a press conference in Kigali that his favorite candidate’s defeat was “a good day for democracy”.
“What is the Commonwealth? It is an amazing group of 54 countries that share values and the idea of democracy in particular and I have had a good working relationship with Baroness Scotland for a long time. . . and look forward to working well with her in the years to come,” he said.
https://www.ft.com/content/f6498dd0-ea5c-4ad8-ac91-16cb068ddd76 Boris Johnson fails to oust Lady Scotland as Commonwealth leader