In 1649, the English beheaded their King Charles I. Currently, the phrase "heads will roll" is often used in London, but not literally, only figuratively. But it is being used figuratively, quite a bit.
I wrote here about how an expense account scandal involving members of the House of Commons, led to the resignation of that body's speaker, Michael Martin. The significance of that event was largely symbolic, because the office of speaker of the House of Commons is much less powerful than that of speaker of the House of Representatives in the U.S. But now, it appears that more powerful heads than Martin's are being positioned into the virtual guillotine.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will reportedly lose that job, in a Cabinet reshuffle that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to implement, after the European Parliament elections this Thursday. (The position of Home Secretary has no exact counterpart in the U.S. Its bailiwick is somewhat similar to that of our Department of Homeland Security, but the British Home Office has more responsibility for day-to-day law enforcement, a function that is more centralized in the U.K. than it is in the U.S.)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling might be next in line for political execution. That is Britain's high-falutin' title for its finance minister. Punsters who have had fun with the incumbent chancellor's surname will not lose anything, if, as rumored, Brown appoints Ed Balls, the schools secretary, as the next chancellor.
The next question is whether Brown himself will also lose his job. Since, as the BBC has reported, Brown has denied that that will happen, that must mean it is a possibility.